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Full text of "Fickle heart!: (Coeur volant!) : a novel of love and racing"

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III 






FICKLE HEABT ! 

(CCEUB VOLANT!) 

% &abd oi %oht att& Baring 

BY 

FORTUNE DU BOISGOBEY 

Author of "Death or Dishonour," "Cash on Delivery," 

ETC., ETC. 
TRANSLATED BY 

Sir GILBERT CAMPBELL, Bart. 
SOLE AUTHORISED COPYRIGHT TRANSLATION. 



LONDON 
JOHN AND ROBERT MAXWELL 

MILTON HOUSE, ST. BRIDE SiiiEET, LUDGATE CIRCUS, 

AJSD 

[SHOE LANE, FLEET STREET, B.C. 

[All rights reserved. ] 



JpHlje Parisian ^ciirrar^ 

In Appropriate, Illuminated Covers 
ONE SHILLING EACH VOLUME 
Or in Cloth, 1/6 . .,. 

By FORTUNE DU BOISGOBEY 
The Red Band (La Bande Rouge). 2 vols. 

The Condemned Door (Porte Close). 2 vols. 

Death or Dishonour (Jean Coupe-en-Deux). 2 vols. 

The Blue Veil (" Angel of the Bells "—La Violette 

Bleue, ou l'Ange du Bourdon). 1 vol. 

Cash on Delivery (Rubis sur l'Ongle). 2 vols. 

The Cry of Blood (Le Cri du Sang). 2 vols. 

The Felon's Bequest (L'Heritage d'un Forcat). 2 vols. 

Fickle Heart ! (Coeur Volant !) 2 vols. 
By RENE DE PONT-JEST 

The Divorced Princess (Divorcee). 1 vol. 

By ADOLPHE D'ENNERY 

The Wife's Sacrifice (Martyre !) 1 vol. 

t * These Translations are not only fully protected, but NO other Ver- 
sions are sanctioned, authorised, or allowed by the Author. These 
are the only approved translations. 

London : J. & K. Maxwell, 35, St. Bride Street, Ludgate Circus, and 
at all Booksellers and News Agents. 



CONTENTS 



VOLUME I 

CHAP. p AGK 

i. Husband and Wife 5 

ii. The Visit of Romeo 13 

hi. Fickle Heart 20 

iv. A Defeat and a Victory 28 

v. The Satin Coverlet 36 

vi. A Self-made Man 40 

vn. A Stormy Interview 49 

viii. An Aristocratic Husband 54 

ix. In Search of a Lover 59 

x. A Capitalist in Livery 66 

xi. The Signature to the Bill , 77 

xii. An Unlicensed Eden 82 

xiii. Carte and Tierce 94 

xiv. On the Course — Part I , ... 107 

xv. On the Course — Part II. ... r 118 

xvi. Three Conspirators , 125 

xvii. 'Twixt Husband and Father 137 

xviii. A Racing Mephistopheles 148 

xix. A Dream 160 

xx. The Awakening 165 

xxi. "I will do it" 174 

xxn. The Ladies' Battle ... ... 188 



Contents 



VOLUME II 

CHAP. 

xxiii. The Plan of Defence 
xxiv. A Doubtful Signature 
xxv. A Villain's Honour... 
xxvi. Malvina Martingale 
xxvii. A Delicate Mission ... 
xxviii. An Amicable Arrangement 
xxix. An Unexpected Meeting 
xxx. A Eun" of Luck 
xxxi. Lost ! 

xxxii. " My Lord, 'tis Jealo 
xxxui. Vague Suspicions 
xxxiv. An Honest Jockey .. 
xxxv. " Is She Worth it ? " 

xxxvi. Indecision 

xxxvu. The Race 

xxxvni. Checkmate to Master and Man 
xxxix. The Fortune-Teller of Montma 
xl. The Chamber of Death 

xli. The Finger of Fate 

xlii. "Hoist with his own Petard" 



ft 



rr. 



PAGE 

193 

205 
220 
226 
239 
250 
257 
20!) 
270 
2«o 
290 
307 
312 
315 
329 

34-; 
303 
307 
37') 



FICKLE HEART! 



CHAPTER T 

IIUSHANU AND WIFE 

It was an unmistakable winter night. The snow, which 
had fallen heavily, covered with its white carpet all 
the lawns and walks of the garden which lay beneath the 
windows of a magnificent mansion that towered majestically 
above the entrance to the Avenue d'Eylau, and which in no 
way resembled those gimcrack structures which are usually 
tenanted by ladies of a certain class. 

It was a princely mansion, and worthy to rank amongst 
palaces. 

The front of the house faced the Avenue d'Eylau, but it 
stood far back, being built in the midst of a regular park, 
studded with clumps of lofty trees. 

The mansion was made up of a central building, with two 
retreating wings, and on the front wall, graven in stone, 
were the armorial bearings of the owner. 

Passers-by envied the fortunate lot of the rich, and noble 
master ; but they forgot to ask themselves, if he was also 
happy. 

It was three o'clock in the morning, but the windows in 
the ground-floor in the right wing were still lighted up. 

In a small sitting-room, the walls of which were hung with 
silken drapery, a man and a woman were talking together. 
The woman who was still young, and tolerably good-looking, 
kept moving backwards and forwards between the fire-place 
and the window. The man was tall and well made, clean 
shaved, and correctly attired in black ; he leaned against the 



6 Fickle, Heart 

mantel-piece, and spoke in that solemn manner which is 
habitual to the servants of a well-conducted mansion, who 
from their position, are compelled to maintain a serious 
demeanour. 

He was but a valet, but a valet of the first-class rank, who 
had only served in aristocratic families, and was conscious of 
his own superiority. The woman was a lady's maid, such as 
are now never seen, save on the stage of the Comedie Franchise 
in old-fashioned pieces — smart, sagacious, and cunning, 
thoroughly well posted up in all that was going on around 
her, even in her mistress's most cherished secrets. 

" No sound of carriage wheels in the avenue," said she, 
after listening attentively. "This is the first time that my 
mistress has been so late in returning from a ball." 

"Perhaps she has waited to dance the cotillon," remarked 
the man-servant, with a knowing air. 

" She has never done such a thing in her life ! Beside* 
the Count would not allow it." 

" He is right ; the cotillon is a dangerous dance for hus- 
bands ; there are a number of figures in it which furnish 
fine opportunities for flirtation." 

" Francis, my good fellow, you are not sharp. Women can 
always find opportunities. For instance, if by any ill luck, 
I should marry you, do you think that I should have any 
difficulty in doing so ? I hate a jealous husband." 

" The Count is one of that sort." 

" And a great fool he is for his pains, for my mistress gives 
him no reason to be so." 

" Pooh, Miss Lisa, you know nothing about it ; besides 
she is a bit of a flirt." 

" Hold your wicked tongue ; you are all in the wrong : 
my mistress is not a goody-goody, but she is an honourable 
woman for all that. I would go bail for her. If there was 
anything wrong, I should know all about it. It is quite true 
that she is fond of amusement, and that she is never so happy 
as when she is at a dance ; but is not that - better than 
mixing herself up with all sorts of society intrigues ? " 

" Well, perhaps so ; and then she did not go out much 
before she was married. Her father's society was chiefly 
composed of building contractors like himself. She made a 
fine thing of it in marrying the Count de Sartilly, who ranks 
with the first nobility of France " 

" Yes ; and who had not a rap when he married. Where 
would he now be, pray, without the six millions which old 
Vacheron gave his daughter, not to mention this splendid 
mansion? And yet your noble master from the life he 
leads seems as if he would run through it all." 



Husband and Wife ? 

" But hang it : in Paris, it costs money to live in proper 
style. The stables alone cost the Count " 

" Three times less than the gambling table, and the other 
things. He will come to no good, remember that, Francis." 

" That may be ; but even then I shall console myself. I 
have made my little pile during the six years that I have 
been in his service ; and if you are willing, you naughty 
girl, we can start on our own account. "With your savings 
and mine, we could open a splendid milliner's shop." 

" Thank you very much ; but I shall never leave my 
mistress, especially when she is unhappy." 

" Unhappy ! get along with you ; old Vacheron has still 
ten millions left, and if her husband ruins her she will 
always have the opportunity of suing for a divorce." 

" So she could if she was not so infatuated with her 
husband. But she simply adores him. She ought to be 
afraid of him, for I believe him to be capable of anything. 
Listen," continued the waiting woman, glancing through the 
window, " Mile. Diana has not yet gone to bed, there is a 
light in her room." 

" Does that surprise you 1 " asked Francis with a sneer. 

" Certainly it does, she is never up after midnight." 

" Do you believe that ? "Well I am certain of the contrary ; 
why sometimes she actually goes out for a walk in the park, 
much later than this. And if I were in the Countess's 
place, I would put no faith in companions. They are good 
enough for old dowagers who want to have novels road to 
them, but your mistress is two and twenty " 

" Her doctor has forbidden her to exert her eyes, and 
besides, Mile. Diana, is her former schoolfellow, and as she 
has no fortune " 

" Yes, that is all very good, but it does not prevent strange 
things from happening here, and if I were to tell you " 

" But I don't wish to hear anything, Master Francis, and I 
advise you to go about your duties, for here come the Count 
and Countess." 

As she spoke the gate which lead into the avenue d'Eylau 
turned on its hinges, and whilst the footman who had 
opened it, closed it again, a handsome carriage magnificently 
horsed rolled up to the steps of the house, with its lamps 
shining through the darkness like a pair of meteors. 

" Thank you Miss Lisa, for having given me the office," 
said Francis. " Had the Count not found me in his room 
there would have been a nice to do, and as he never makes 
any stay now in your mistress's room, it is time for me to 
clear out of this." 

" Get away, you great loafer," exclaimed the waiting-maid, 



8 Fickle Heart 

pushing him out of the room : then as soon as she found 
herself alone, she murmured. " It is quite true that for the 
last six months, the Count has not once in the evening come 
near my mistress's room. And yet she submits to it. On my 
word, women who move in society must be fools." She 
paused, and listened. " Tt is strange," continued she, " I 
can almost imagine that I hear the Count's voice on the 
staircase. Is he by any chance going to make it up with 
her. I should be much astonished if he did. And yet it is 
certainly he, but he is not saying very pleasant things to 
her." 

The door flew open and the Countess de Sartilly entered 
enveloped in furs ; the Count followed her closely, and took 
up a position in front of the fireplace with his hat on his 
head, and his hands in the pockets of his overcoat, whilst Lisa 
occupied herself in removing her mistress's wraps. 

" Leave us," said the Countess, " I will undress myself to- 
night. I hope that you have not lit a fire in my bedroom." 

" Madame has forbidden me to do so, and as I know that 
Madame dreads too much heat even at this season of the 
year, I have left the window open, but I will go now 
and " 

" It is useless, I will shut it myself. Leave us." 

Lisa left the room, saying to herself. " A reconciliation 
indeed 1 Yes, very like one. How savagely the master 
eyes her, and I can see that she has been crying. Poor little 
thing. She has paid dearly for her title. The monster will 
end by beating her." 

Lisa was not mistaken, Mme. de Sartilly could hardly 
restrain her tears ; she sank into an arm-chair, and burst 
into loud sobs. 

She was a very handsome dark woman, with a skin 
as white as alabaster, and lips like the blossom of the 
pomegranate tree. A real type of Spanish beauty, 
though her birthplace was on the Boulevard Haussmann. 
Her eyes were neither blue nor black, but resembled in hue 
the violets of Parma. For a moment she raised them to the 
Count's face, and then as if to avoid the angry glance that he 
cast on her, she bent her head, and hid her face in her 
hands. 

Her husband was a handsome man of tall stature and 
haughty demeanour, his features were aristocratic, and his 
long fair moustache was carefully arranged. 

He resembled a musketeer of a by-gone age, like the 
Athos of King Louis XIII. in Dumas' romance. 

"Enough of these tears, my dear," remarked he contemp- 
tuously. " Were you taught to whine like this in your 



Husband and Wife 9 

father's house 1 All you have to do now is to make a scene, 
so as to complete your want of form." 

" I entreat you Gontran ! " murmured the Countess. 

" I have already told you, and I repeat it again, that at the 
Marchioness de Muire's dance, you behaved in a most 
detestable way. You danced awkwardly, you waltzed like 
a shop-girl, and in addition you waltzed much too often with 
that fellow who has made his way, I do not know how, into 
select society, and who looks like a shop-walker in a large 
linen-draper's. What do you say his name is ?" 

" Henri Trevieres, he is a friend of my father's." 

" He looks like one," retorted the Count insolently. " But 
I have told you before that I did not like him, and that you 
were not to receive his ridiculous attempts at politeness as 
you have done, but no attention was paid to my orders. 
Very good, only remember that for the future, I shall 
go my own way. But let us leave this topic, for I came 
here this evening to discuss much moi'e serious matters with 
you," 

in extreme astonishment the Countess gazed intently 
upon her husband's face, in its expression she seemed to read 
the coming of some future evil. 

Bat after this alarming commencement, M. de Sartilly 
stopped short, and listened. "What was that?" exclaimed 
he, " I hear persons running down the little street outside 
the garden wall, and it seems to me that they are crying 
out ' murder ' or ' fire ' ! " 

The Countess, much alarmed, listened in her turn. 

"No," continued M. de Sartilly, after a short silence. "I 
can hear nothing more. I must have been deceived, and it 
was the wind making the boughs of that great chestnut tree 
grate against each other, that tree that has so idiotically been 
placed under your window. Another of your father's ideas. He 
spent unheard-of sums of money in transporting well-grown 
trees, and stuck them here and there, as if he had not two 
grains of sense. I'll have that chestnut tree cut down." 

" What pleasure can you find, Gontran, in continually 
sneering at my father 1 " asked the young woman sadly. 

" I don't sneer at him, I merely assert that he has no taste. 
The whole house is ridiculous with its abbreviated wings, and 
its great beast of a front, which resembles a college, or a 
barrack. And he spent millions on it ! He had much 
better have sold it to some perfumer who had made his 
fortune." 

" Do you reproach him for having given it to you ? " 

" What do you mean by giving it to me. It is to you, my 
dear, that it belongs, to you alone, and as M. Vacheron took 



10 Fickle Heart 

care to settle everything on you, I have no right without 
your permission to get rid of this abominable edifice, any 
more than the power to touch the capital of your dowry 
lodged in your name in the Bank of France. The income is 
nearly all absorbed by the expenses of our establishment, 
and if I lose a couple of thousand louis, at cards or at races, 
I do not know where to lay my hands on them." 

" If I recollect such an event has already happened " 

" Yes ; and I went to M. Vacheron, and at your interces- 
sion, after I had made a bad book in the Grand Prix, he con- 
sented to advance me the hundred and fifty thousand francs 
that I required, but he did so with extremely bad grace. It 
was a mere question of his bringing up ; underbred people 
do not know how to give." 

This fresh insult brought a scarlet flush to Mine, de Sar- 
tilly's face, but she dared not raise her head, and her husband 
emboldened by her weakness continued with a sudden 
access of bitterness. " Oh, I am not angry with him, an 
ex-contractor in the building trade cannot be supposed to 
possess the instincts of a gentleman ; but I ask you now, if 
you will have the courage to go to your father once more in 
case I should be again in want of a certain sum of money ? " 
" You know that I have courage for anything," murmured 
the Countess." 

This allusion to the indignities that she had endured since 
her marriage did not soften her husband. "So," resumed 
he, " you will not refuse to rescue me from my embarrass- 
ments 1 " 

" What, have you lost again, this very night ? •" 
"Yes, at the Marchioness de Muire's, twenty thousand 
francs, it was all your fault, I was irritated at seeing you 
waltzing with M. Trevieres, and to avoid the unpleasant 
spectacle that you afforded me, I made a fourth at whist, five 
hundred francs the point. But it is not a question of that 
trifle." 

" Gracious heavens then, what is the matter ? " 
" This is it. I am going halves with the Viscount de 
Saint Senier in establishing a racing stable." 

" Our neighbour who lives in the house opposite ? " 
" Just so, he does not go into society because all his time 
is taken up with sporting matters. But you have met his 
wife." 

"Yes, I have, and I dislike her very much." 

" All the worse for you, she makes Saint Senier very 

happy, for she brought him an immense fortune, and besides 

she married him without settlements. Well, I tell you Saint 

Senier and I are going halves in running our horses at the 



Husband and Wife 11 

spring meetings. My share will be three hundred thousand 
francs, and the time for payment has now come. Will you 
get them for me from your father ? " 

The Countess made no reply. 

" You hesitate," continued Sartilly. " Do not let us talk 
any more about it. I only asked you to do something for 
me, and it does not suit me to implore you, but henceforth 
I shall know what dependence to place on your attachment 
to me, and shall act accordingly." 

This last attack was too much, and the young woman 
rebelled against it. " What can you do to me more cruel, 
than the state of abandonment in which I now live?" ex- 
claimed she. "I love you, Gontran, I love you still, and 
your cruel disdain breaks my heart. How have I deserved it ? 
What have you to reproach me with? Do you dare to assert 
that I deceived you ? Do you not know that if you will 
come back to me, that I shall be only too delighted to take 
up once again the life that we first led together ? " 

Mme. de Sartilly's voice trembled as she permitted this 
last confession to escape her, and her unworthy husband did 
not allow the opportunity to pass by without profiting by 
it. 

" I reproach you with nothing," answered he feigning an 
emotion he did not feel, " unless it is that you have not 
understood me. Listen to me, Yalentine. I was passionately 
in love with you when we were first married. Our honeymoon 
lasted two years. I had hoped that it would have lasted for 
ever, and that you would have accustomed yourself to live 
in a manner befitting the Countess de Sartilly. You seemed 
to take pleasure in the world of fashion the gates of which 
I threw open to you, though they were firmly closed to so 
many other women. You were received with enthusiasm, 
and I had hoped that you would conform to its customs, and 
learn by example that a husband could retain his indepen- 
dence. You would have lost nothing by such a course, I 
swear to you. We can, believe me, love passionately without 
leading such a humdrum existence as the petty shopkeepers 
of the Marais do. But you allowed yourself little by little to 
be drawn away to that commonplace domestic life which you 
had learned in your father's house. You wished to sink into 
mere prosaic happiness, whereas it only depended on you to 
live with me as though I was more your lover than your 
husband, and yet you never guessed at my dream, I who 
have such a horror of conventionalities ; but listen, I am 
going to speak to you openly, brutally, you may call it, if J 
have lately left your chamber un visited, it was because I 
would rather have entered it by the window, like a Romeo, 



12 Fickle Heart 

had such been your wish, and not like a husband armed with 
all the right conferred upon him by the Civil Code. You 
did not believe that I was so romantic, did you ? But I have 
always been so, and age has been unable to correct this 
failing." 

The most consummate actor could not have played his 
part better ; gesture, attitude, and passionate looks were 
none of them wanting. 

" If I could only believe you," murmured Valentine. 

" Put me to the proof ; commence by keeping at a dis- 
tance this empty fop who is so repugnant to me and whose 
only merit is waltzing well. Come into my life, share 
my tastes. I love horses, all kinds of luxuries, and the world 
of fashion. Love all that too, and you will have no difficulty 
ie again reconquering my heart." 

" Is this true / Is it really true ? " asked the Countess, 
deeply moved. 

" Try it if you do not believe me ; at any rate it will be 
amusing. But if you do make the trial, begin by not going 
so often to mix in the shopkeeping society you find at your 
lather's house." 

"What, you advise me not to see my father, when just 
now " 

" Yes, I know, the three hundred thousand francs ; well, 
my dear, if it is repugnant to you to ask M. Yacheron for 
them, I will find means to borrow them elsewhere. And 
now that you are re-assured as to my intentions, and in- 
structed as to my sentiments, I wish you good-night. I am 
going to my own room, and it depends on you whether I am 
always to remain there. Your chamber has no balcony ; 
never mind that, but think of Romeo." 

And with these concluding words so full of promise, the 
Count de Sartilly played out his part by kissing the tips of 
his wife's fingers and leaving the room. 



CHAPTER II 

THE VISIT OF ROMEO 

Valentine was overcome with feelings of emotion and joy, 
for she believed in the possibility of this reconciliation of 
which her husband had afforded her a glimpse, and she 
already began to reproach herself for not having sooner 
comprehended a character which dived so deeply into the 
refinements of love. She even chided herself for having so 
unkindly treated his proposals regarding a fresh loan. Slit- 
again began to cherish the hope of bringing him back to her, 
and asked herself when the star of the shepherd — the star 
so dear to all true lovers, and which had been behind a 
cloud for more than a month — would shine again. 

"Why not this very night ?" murmured she softly, as she 
entered her bed-room. 

The open window reminded her of Romeo climbing into 
Juliet's chamber, and she took no steps to close it. 

The window opened directly on to the park, and was some 
ten feet from the snow-covered ground, and six from the 
great chestnut tree which the Count wished to have cut 
down. 

Valentine felt no desire for sleep, and leaning her elbow 
on the window sill, began to reflect on the incidents of the 
stormy interview which had just taken place. The night 
was cloudy, but not very cold, and she experienced a feeling 
of pleasure in cooling her burning forehead in the fresh night 
air. 

All around was silent, and almost immediately in front of 
her rose the lofty railings which separated the Rue Ville- 
just from the extensive garden of the mansion. There was no 
movement in that unfrequented street, which even in broad 
daylight was but little used as a thoroughfare. Beyond the 
railing was a much smaller house, belonging to Viscount 
Saint Senier, the side of which was turned towards the 
garden, and the Countess imagined that she could see a 
motionless shadow at the foot of the wall. Then she re- 
membered the cries that her husband had fancied that he 
had heard, and asked herself if this shadow was not some 
individual keeping watch — doubtless a robber. 



14 Fickle Heart 

This was an unlikely supposition, but it frightened her, 
and made her draw back from the window. 

Tbe only light in her room was from a lamp, the globe of 
which, being covered with a shade, shed a soft light around 
the room, at the end of which stood the bed, half concealed 
by lace curtains of almost fabulous worth. 

Valentine grew more and more nervous, and made up her 
mind to go to bed. She should have commenced by closing 
the window, but the idea of Borneo was still fresh in her 
recollection, and she had still some vague hope of seeing 
Gontran clambering over the bar that ran across it, so that 
she still deferred taking this indispensable precaution. 

She began slowly to undress herself before a tall mirror 
that stood at the foot of the bed, and had already unfastened 
her corset when she saw reflected in the glass the figure of a 
man, who had drawn aside the curtains of the bed, and was 
standing erect some four paces from her ! 

The Countess had not the power to utter a cry. Her blood 
seemed to freeze in her veins, and she leaned against the glass 
with her eyes fixed upon the man, who on his part also re- 
mained motionless. There was nothing alarming either in 
his manner or appearance. He was young, quite young 
indeed, for the white skin of his face was hardly darkened 
by any sign of beard, his features were regular, and he had a 
gentleand submissive expressicnwhich ought to have dispelled 
Valentine's fears. At first she had taken him for a robber, 
who had broken into the house to plunder and murder, but 
he no more resembled a Parisian housebreaker than he did a 
Calabrian bandit. From his costume Mme. de Sartilly 
could not judge whether her strange visitor was well or badly 
dressed, for he wore a long greatcoat, which he had 
evidently thrown about him in a hurry, for only the top 
button was fastened, and he had not thrust his arms through 
the sleeves. His tie, which was unfastened, showed the 
neck of a young man, and his hair which was of a bright 
chestnut, curling naturally, was rumpled and in disorder. 
The greatcoat covered him from head to foot, but the 
Countess could see that he had on patent leather boots. 
Women even in moments of the greatest danger notice such 
things. 

The handsome young man appeared to be as much em- 
barrassed as the Countess was alarmed. For a brief space they 
both remained motionless, and silent, but the situation was 
not one that could be prolonged, and the young man was the 
first to break the silence. 

"For heaven's sake, madame," exclaimed he in stifled 
accents, "do not ring the bell, or call for help i " 



The Visit of Borneo 15 

Madame de Sartilly grew calmer as she heard these com- 
mencing words, and by a powerful effort she succeeded in 
recovering a certain amount of her presence of mind. 
" What are you doing in my room ? " asked she. 
'" I am hiding myself, madame," murmured the handsome 
stranger. 

" You doubtless mean that you are pursued by the 
police?" 

" Xot by the police, madame." 

" By whom then ? And how did you introduce yourself 
into my room ? " 

He pointed to the window. Valentine did not for a 
moment disbelieve his statement as to the manner in which 
he had effected his entrance, and she began to think that her 
husband was right in wishing to have the chestnut tree cut 
down. 

" How long have you been here 1 " continued she. 

" I . I do not know , perhaps half an hour." 

Gontran was quite right, thought she. This man was the 
fugitive after whom they were shouting " murder," he must 
have committed some crime ; and yet his hands were not 
stained with blood, nor did he look like an assassin. 

" You were in our garden then ? " she began aloud. 

" I got into it by climbing over the fence." 

The gate and the railing which enclosed the Count de 
Sartilly's grounds were fully seven feet in height, and dressed 
as the stranger was, he must have been both strong and 
active to have been able to surmount such obstacles. 

" You were then endeavouring to escape from someone 1 '' 
asked Valentine. 

" Yes, madame, I was endeavouring to escape, because it 
was impossible for me to act in self-defence." 

He evidently understood that the Countess would feel 
astonished that he should have taken to flight instead of 
standing his ground, and that such an act would not raise 
him in her esteem. 

" Why could you not defend yourself ? " questioned she. 

" Because had I done so, I should have endangered the 
honour and life of a woman. I was surprised in her company, 
and I had barely the time to make my escape. But now she is 
saved, for you will not ruin us. You will keep this incident 
a profound secret, will you not 1 " 

" I can do that the more easily because I know nothing of 
it, nor do I wish to do so. But what could you hope for in 
taking refuge here, in my chamber ? You must have seen 
that the house was inhabited, for you could see a light in th« 

■•OOP) " 



16 Fickle Heart 

" I did not take the time to think ; the window was open 
and the branches of the tree almost touched it " 

" But you must have expected to be detected almost im- 
mediately. Suppose my husband had come in with me ; had 
he done so, he would have taken you for a robber, and 
would certainly have killed you." 

" I was ready to die, no one would have known my name 
or where I came from, and no one would have suspected her." 

So much devotion to a woman touched Valentine's heart. 
It was thus that she would wish to have been loved. 

" Happily for you," she said, " I came in alone. Why did 
you not show yourself when first you saw me 1 " 

"I was fearful of alarming you; but I felt that it would 
be an odious act to play the spy on you in your own room, 
at such an hour, so you will do me the justice of allowing I 
took no advantage of my position." 

He spoke the truth, for he had emerged from his hiding- 
place at the moment when Madame de Sartilly was preparing 
to retire to rest. She appreciated this behaviour, and it was 
in a much gentler tone that she continued : 

"But sir, you must see that it is impossible for you to 
remain here. I am willing to forgive your intrusion since you 
had no other means of escaping from a vengeance which 
would not have struck you alone. But now what do you 
intend to do I " 

" I am at your orders, madame." 

'• Then I advise you to leave by the same way that you 
came in, by the window ; it is more easy to descend than to 
climb up." 

" If 1 descend I shall receive a bullet from a revolver. I 
am watched. The man who is hunting me is hidden on 
the other side of the street. Ho well knows that I must get 
out, and he is waiting for me." 

" But if he saw you come into my room, 1 am lost ? " 

" Alas, yes, if he kills me, for then you will be accused. 
But it is in your power to avoid this misfortune. Ah, 
madame, it is not my life that I am seeking to save, but 
your reputation." 

" In my power ! What do you mean, what can I do 1 " 

" You can indicate to me some other means of exit from this 
house. Had you not come in, I should have sought for it 
myself. Your servants are in bed, and I hoped to find the 
staircase. There must be an entrance into the Avenue 
d'Eylau, and I should have escaped that way, and the man 
who is watching for me in the Eue Villejust would not have 
seen me." 

"Yes, you might have made your escape, why did you not 
do so 1 " 



The Visit of Romeo 17 

"I heard two voices in the adjoining room, yours, 
and — — " 

" And my husband's." 

"Then they died away. For a moment I hoped that 
there was no one there, and I was about to take the only 
path of safety that was left to me, when I heard your foot- 
steps approaching the door ; then I lost my head, and hid 
myself behind the curtains." 

Valentine made no answer. She confessed to herself that 
the stranger was right, and that she might rid herself of her 
dangerous companion by pointing out to him the way through 
the house. 

" I had," continued he, " made up my mind to rim the risk 
of losing myself in a house with the interior of which I was 
unacquainted, but now guided by you, I shall be sure of 
success." 

" Good," said the Countess after a silence, " it shall be as 
you desire ; this room adjoins the small drawing-room which 
you must pass through, and you will find yourself on the 
main staircase. The door of the vestibule to which this 
staircase will lead you is closed, but you can open it from 
the inside, and when once you have gained the grounds, you 
have nothing to do but to climb over the railings as you have 
already done, for they are no higher on the side of the 
Avenue d'Eylau, than they were at the Eue Villejust." 

" Oh madame, I owe you more than my life, and should the 
opportunity ever offer to show my gratitude, you will 
find me ready to die for you. My name is George " 

"Silence," whispered Madame de Sartilly, suddenly. 

Some one had come into the little drawing-room. The 
Countess had the presence of mind to move swiftly to the door 
and softly draw the bolts. Who was it that would be coming 
here at such an hour ? Her maid had received orders to 
leave her for the night, and the Count had retired to his own 
room. Suddenly Valentine remembered the last words that 
he had made use of in leaving her ; " Think of Romeo '' he 
had said, after having given her a half-promise of the renewal 
of their honeymoon. He had come back earlier than she 
had hoped for, and this return once so ardently desired, now 
froze her very blood with terror. 

Doubtless the young man understood the position of affairs, 
for he made a step towards the window. The Countess 
signed to him not to move, and remained perfectly still, her 
neck stretched out, listening eagerly, with one hand pressed 
upon her breast to restrain the beating of her heart. She 
heard some one endeavouring to open the door of com- 
munication, which however remained closed ; then there were 



18 FicHe Heart 

four distinct taps, and lastly a voice which she knew well 
whispered, " Open, dearest, it is I Gontran." 

Then, as the Countess still remained silent, the voice once 
more murmured, "Are you asleep?" and the tapping re- 
commenced louder than before. What Valentine suffered at 
that moment can only be understood by a woman who has 
been placed in a similar position. Gontran had come prepared 
for that reconciliation which she longed for with all her heart. 
If she opened the door, he would find her alone with a man, 
and if she kept it closed it woidd most likely residt in a life- 
long separation, for her husband would never believe that 
she had not heard him, and admitting even that he did not 
accuse her of being shut up with a lover, he would never 
forgive her for having refused to receive her legitimate lord 
and master when he condescended to return to her. 

Mine, de Sartilly overwhelmed with the dangers of her 
•position, drew herself up and cast an appealing glance at the 
fugitive. 

" I understand you, : ' said he, coldly. " It is best for me to 
die. If I am killed in your garden, you can say that I came 
here to rob the house, and that I endeavoured to make my 
escape when you came suddenly upon me. Xo one will 
recognise my body." 

As he spoke he moved quickly to the window, stepped upon 
the sill, and leapt upon the snow-covered ground beneath. 
Valentine distinctly heard the dull sound as his feet 
touched the ground, and then all was silence. She believed 
that the young man had succeeded in escaping without 
farther accident, and drawing the bolt she threw open the 
door. 

Gontran stood on the threshold. " What, not yet in bed ? " 
asked he, casting a suspicious glance at her ball dress which 
she had not entirely removed. " How was it then that you 
did not open at once when I knocked, and why are vou 
trembling so 1 " 

The Countess more dead than alive, bent down her head, 
and could not find voice to justify her conduct. " Ha," 
continued the Count, " the window is open ; I begin to 
understand." 

At that moment two shots, one almost immediatelv 
following the other, rang sharply through the silence of the 
night. 

" They have killed him," shrieked Valentine. 

For the moment she forgot that her husband was there, 
and onl} T recollected it when it was too late, for he had 
instantly caught the words that she had been foolish enough, 
to let drop. Thrusting her roughly aside, he ran to the 



The Visit of Borneo 19 

window, and leaning out, looked eagerly into the grounds, 
but he could see no one either in the garden or in the Eue 
Villejust. 

It was not a particularly dark night, and if the man who 
had just been fired at had been killed on the spot his body 
would have been plainly visible in the unspotted whiteness 
of the snow. If he had only been wounded, he might have 
fallen after having turned the corner of the house. 

As for the person who had fired the shots, he had made it 
his business to disappear at once, and M. de Sartilly did not 
trouble himself to look for him. 

Turning to his wife who remained riveted to the spot, he 
said coldly, "That was your lover who has just made his 
escape?" 

" I have no lover," murmured the Countess. 

"Who was here then, in your room 1 Are you going to 
tell me that it was a thief ? " 

" No ; it was a man with whom I am entirely un- 
acquainted." 

" Indeed ! But for all that you were expecting him, since 
you left your window open ] " 

" I swear to you, Gontran — ■ — " 

" Do not swear ; it is useless. Your oath would not con- 
vince me, and I have no time to listen to you. The scoundrel 
/that I just missed catching here cannot have gone far, if the 
man who fired on him took a good aim. I will go and see 
what has become of him, and I shall not be long in bringing 
back news of him to you. Whilst I am absent I shall lock you 
up here, and I warn you not to attempt to escape as he has done 
by the window, for I too have arms, and I shall show you 
no mercy. I have surprised you with your lover, and have 
the right to kill you on the spot — remember that. Now I 
leave you to yourself ; we will have our explanation pre- 
sently ; " and without affording his wife a chance of reply, 
the Count left the room, turning the key in the door outside. 

Valentine heard him walk away hurriedly and over- 
whelmed with her emotions, sank down in an arm-chair. 



CHAPTER III 

FICKLE HEART 

Valentine felt that she was lost, and the magnitude of her 
misfortune deprived her of all power of defending herself. 
What was taking place in the garden, where the stranger's 
corpse was perhaps lying in the snow '( And if he were still 
alive what would Gontran do ? Finish him doubtless, and 
then coming back would immolate one whom he affected to 
believe was the accomplice in his guilt. 

Valentine's dream had been of a reconciliation with her 
husband, and now she had been placed by cruel fate in a 
position which might result in a double murder. 

The Count himself would have been unable at that instant 
to reply to these terrifying questions which Valentine was 
asking herself, for he had as yet arrived at no settled deter- 
mination. He had come to her that night because it suited 
him to bring about a reconciliation, and he had need of her 
to procure from hi.s father-in-law an enormous sum, which 
the good man would certainly have refused to give to him, and 
Gontran, haughty gentleman as he was, had perceived that 
through threats he could obtain nothing from his wife, and 
had therefore attempted to arrive at his end by an entirely 
different method of acting. He knew that Valentine still 
adored him, and he had settled within himself that instead of 
coercing her it would be better for him to exhibit the 
affection of the repentant husband. After having carefully 
paved the way by his romantic allusion to the story of Romeo 
and Juliet, he had come down stealthily from his room to his 
wife's chamber, and had knocked at her door more like a 
lover who conceals himself, than a husband who comes armed 
with all the rights of the law. And had Valentine been 
alone this unworthy plot would certainly have succeeded. 
But now everything had undergone a complete change. He 
had got a hold upon her, and was now in the position of a 
husband whose honour had been attacked, and who was 
therefore able to issue his orders, and not implore favours at 
her hands. He imagined that he would profit greatly by this 
fresh situation. The oidy thing was that he was not com- 
pletely clear as to the real history of this strange incident, 
and before returning to his wife he wished to know the full 



Fickle Heart 21 

details of the affair. He did not for a moment really believe 
that the man whom he had so nearly surprised was Valentine's 
lover, but appearances were terribly against her, and this 
untoward incident had placed her completely at his mercy. 
But now he had to settle with the fugitive, and before 
finding out the whole truth it was necessary to discover if he 
were alive or dead. 

The large hall had two doors, one opening into the Avenue 
d'Eylau, and the other into the garden ; they were both 
locked, but easy to be opened from the inside. Gontran 
went out by the one leading into the garden, and paused 
for a moment upon the steps before he proceeded in search 
of the unhappy man who had served as a target — for 
whom 1 Gontran on this point knew nothing, and cared 
less. 

From the top of the steps he could see all that portion of 
the park which extended towards the Bois de Boulogne, and 
is bounded by another estate from which it is separated by 
an ivy-clad wall. The railing is only on the side of the 
Avenue d'Eylau, and the Bue Villejust, and on the side 
opposite to the street there are some plots of land not yet 
built upon. The park was laid out in the English fashion, 
with vast lawns, and winding paths according to the designs 
of the father of Mme. de Sartilly, the contractor Vacheron, 
who at a great expense had had a large quantity of full- 
grown trees removed hither, and planted in convenient 
positions. 

As far as the eye could reach, a wide field of snow, which 
had fallen the evening before, spread itself out before Gon- 
tran, and no dark object marred the whiteness of the alabas- 
ter carpet. The fugitive therefore must have escaped, un- 
less indeed he had crept away to die behind the left wing, 
that wing in which Lisa and Francis had seen the light 
burning whilst they were awaiting the return of their 
master and mistress in the little drawing-room. But he 
must certainly have left some traces behind him, for the 
snow, so dreaded by robbers and lovers, faithfully repro- 
duces the prints of the feet that have pressed its surface. 

From the position in which the Count was standing he 
could not catch a glimpse of these tracks, but they would 
certainly become visible when he drew nearer to the spot, 
" In the pale light that falls from the stars" for the sky 
was now lighted up, and Gontran was desirous of knowing 
in which direction the fugitive had bent his steps. 

Before starting on his hunt, he listened, and was delighted 
to hear no sound. The two pistol shots had not aroused any 
of the servants, and this was not very surprising, for the 



22 Fickle Heart 

wind was blowing rather strongly in the direction of the Bois 
de Boulogne. The Count was greatly pleased at this, for it 
would have been most' unpleasant for him to have taken any 
of his domestics into his confidence regarding the nocturnal 
drama which had just been. played in his house. He wished 
to act by himself, and he decided to begin at the point of 
departure, and step by step to follow the path taken by the 
man of whom he was in search. In order to do this, he 
crept along the front of the house, turning the corner and 
always keeping close to the wall until he reached the spot 
immediately below his wife's room. Looking upwards he 
saw that Valentine had closed her window but had not yet 
extinguished her lamp, but all his attention was soon con- 
centrated on the ground, and he easily found the spot where 
the man had jumped down. The spot was marked by two 
deep cavities produced by his feet which had to bear the 
weight of the body after a leap from a height of ten feet. 
From here the fugitive had gone in the direction of an angle 
in the wall behind which he had hoped to find a shelter from 
the bullets that were awaiting him in the Rue Villejust. 
This at any rate was the notion that the Count conceived, 
and he was not far wrong. The foot-prints were plainly 
visible with long intervals between them, like those of a 
man who runs with all his might, but at one spot seemed to 
be closer together, and the snow appeared to have been 
stamped on, or trampled. " It was here that he was hit," 
thought Gontran, and of this he immediately had the proof, 
for stooping down he perceived by the side of the footmarks 
seme irregular holes in the snow. These had been formed 
by the dropping of the warm blood, but for all that the man 
had not fallen. The tracks continued, but were now not so 
far apart, though more deeply imprinted. Being unable any 
longer to run, he was dragging himself painfully along. 
" He cannot have gone very far," thought Valentine's hus- 
band, "and he certainly would not have the strength to 
climb the railings, so now I am sure to find him." Then he 
continued his search, and the footprints led him past the 
other corner of the house across a wide lawn, where the snow 
which was harder was not perforated but spotted with red 
stains. Doubtless the man had endeavoured here to bind 
his wound, and the blood now only fell drop by drop. It 
seemed as if he were directing his course towards the land 
which had not been built on, and Sartilly felt sure that he 
would find the body at the foot of the railing. But he soon 
arrived at a spot where the lawn was crossed by a broad 
path, which the gardener had taken the trouble to sweep the 
night before, and upon which there was not a particle of 



Fickle Heart 23 

snow remaining. The book in which Gontran had been 
reading the story of the flight of the fugitive had ceased to 
be of service to him, and those pages made by the frost had 
disappeared entirely. In this path Gontran could find no 
more signs, but it must lead somewhere, and if the wounded 
man had gone along it, Gontran had only to follow it to see 
where he had got to. Valentine would have known at once, 
for she was in the habit of walking each day in the grounds, 
but her husband who was no admirer of nature seldom 
entered them, and he was asking himself where this path 
would lead to, when he perceived a light some fifty paces in 
front of him. It was evident that this light proceeded from 
a lantern carried in the hand, for it was about two feet from 
the ground. 

Who was walking about the grounds at such an hour 
carrying a lantern % The Count could not im'agine, but 
thought it best to put himself in an attitude of defence. As a 
gambler who was frequently compelled to return home at 
all hours, sometimes with large sums of money about him, 
he had contracted the habit of carrying a loaded revolver, 
he had even taken it with him to the ball, and he had not 
laid it aside when he had paid the visit to his wife's chamber. 
In the old days of the Spanish monarchy the king always 
went to the queen's room with his naked sword under his 
arm. 

Gontran drew the weapon from his pocket and coolly 
waited for the approach of the man who came slowly to him, 
and when he had arrived within ten paces he cried, " Halt, 
or I fire." 

" My lord, the Count," exclaimed a voice which Sartilly 
did not at first recognise. 

" Who are you 1 " 

" Francis, your lordship's valet." 

" Come up to me then." 

It was an awkward meeting, but it was too late to avoid 
it now. 

" What are you doing here 1 " asked the Count, as soon as 
he found himself face to face with his servant. 

" Did not your lordship hear anything 1 " asked Francis. 

" Two pistol shots, of course, and I am looking for the 
person who fired them." 

" I had the same idea as your lordship, and so I came out 
and took a turn round the grounds, but have seen no one, 
and besides, the gate is securely fastened. It is most 
extraordinary," 

" Where does the path in which we now are, lead to ? " 
asked M. de Sartilly abruptly. 



24 Fickle Heart 

" To those little steps, my lord, -which you can see from 
here," answered the valet raising the lantern, the light from 
which fell upon three steps, with shrubs in pots on each side 
of them. " At the top of which is the door that leads to the 
private staircase conducting to Mile, de Ganges' rooms," and 
Francis added in half a whisper, " How very curious, why 
the little door is open 1 " 

Gontran thought that the wounded man must have taken 
refuge within, and he did not feel inclined to leave him 
there, but he felt that Francis was much in his way. "Good," 
said he, " leave me your lantern, and go back to the house." 

" Your lordship is not thinking of staying here by your- 
self. Suppose you were to meet this armed malefactor 'i " 

" I am also armed, as you see. Get back to the house, I 
tell you. Go up to your room, and do not leave it on any 
account, unless I ring for you, and remember, not a word of 
this to anyone, or else you leave my service at once," added 
Gontran, taking the lantern from the hands of Francis, who 
went off without a word, but not without thinking that 
strange things were taking place in, and about the residence 
of the Count de Sartilly. 

His master waited until he had disappeared round the 
angle of the house, and then deliberately ascended the steps 
which lie examined carefully. He could find no traces of 
blood, but whoever had ascended them last had shaken off the 
snow upon them, and this visitor must have come recently 
for each morning the steps were carefully swept, and every 
atom of snow removed from them. It was therefore evident 
that some one had been there since the close of night, and the 
Count did not for a moment believe that this visitor had 
been his wife's companion. 

He knew this companion very well, but she was of a class 
that is not often seen. Indeed, he had for the past year paid 
a great deal of attention to her, and she was worth the 
trouble, for she was perfectly charming. Her name was 
Diana de Ganges, and she was the last scion of a noble 
family, but as her parents at their death had only left her 
an annual income of six thousand francs upon which to live, 
she had calmly resigned herself to becoming Valentine's com- 
panion, who had been her dearest friend at school. She was 
a girl of strange disposition, and no one, not even Mme. de 
Sartilly had been able to fathom the depths of her character. 
Wayward as a child, and haughty as a princess, she had con- 
trived to secure an independent position in the family in 
which she was after all but a salaried servant. Valentine 
permitted her to come and go as she liked, and to receive 
such visitors as she chose, and to have her meals in her own 



Fickle Heart 25 

room, whenever the fancy to do so possessed her. The Count 
made no objection to her freedom, for he had made up his 
mind to gain her love some time or other. He had no faith 
in the virtue of a girl who had fallen from the position that 
she had formerly occupied, and if he had up to that time 
refrained from any open attempts at her seduction, it was 
because he had not yet definitely made up his mind to break 
entirely with his wife. But he had been playing a wait- 
ing game, and he now asked himself if the favourable oppor- 
tunity had not arrived, to pile one more infidelity upon the 
many to which Valentine had already become the uncon- 
scious victim. 

" Parbleu," muttered he to himself. " If Diana has given 
an asylum to the man I am searching for, she will no longer 
be able to take high hand with me, and she will not, I trust, 
decline to deliver up to me this climber of windows." He 
knew that the fair companion of his wife had her apartments 
on the mezzanine floor, and he made haste to reach it. 

At the door he halted a moment to listen, regardless of his 
position as a gentleman, or of the noble traditions of his 
ancestry. He fancied that he could hear voices inside, and 
he knocked vigorously on the panel. After a few seconds' 
interval a female voice asked, " Who is there 1 " and he did 
not hesitate for a moment in replying, " Gontran de Sartilly." 

He expected that he would be met with delay and 
evasions, but the door flew open at once, and Diana apjjeared 
on the threshold in all the glory of her resplendent beauty 

She was a really magnificent creature. There are fair 
women with black eyes, and dark ones with blue eyes. 
Diana's hair was of the true Titian red, and her eyes had 
the sheen of the emerald ; but what hair, and what eyes ! 
A picture of Titian stepping out of its frame was all that she 
could be compared to. She was clad in a full red dressing- 
gown, fantastically embroidered. She had the imposing 
air of some barbarous queen, had it not been for the gleam 
of education and intelligence that shone in every line and 
feature of her face. Flashes of fire darted from her eyes, 
and her voluptuous lips seemed to invite the kiss of love. She 
did not appear in the slightest degree alarmed at a visit at 
so extraordinary an hour, and it was with a mocking smile 
upon her lips that she said, " Good evening, my dear Count, 
pray have you turned somnambulist, that you walk about in 
the night with a lantern in your hand ? " 

" You know better than that," answered de Sartilly, with 
a light laugh. " I am hunting for a robber.' 

" And you come to look for him in my room ! " 

" I lost hia tracks in the garden, and I fancied that he 



26 Fickle Heart 

might have sought refuge here, I mean of course, without 
your permission." 

" You get strange fancies into your head, my dear sir, my 
room is not a branch of the charitable establishment known 
as the Night Refuge." 

" I am well aware of that, but I have something to say to 
you. Will you grant me a few moments' interview ? " 

" Most certainly, but not here on the lauding, it is too 
cold. Come inside, Count." 

Gontran did not wait for her to repeat her invitation, but 
entered the apartment at once. Diana placed her candle- 
stick upon the table which stood in the lobby in which he 
found himself, and then stepping up to the door which led 
into the interior of her suite of rooms, turned the key in the 
door. " You must pardon me for receiving you in such a 
place where there are no seats. Not that I have the least 
fear of you, but because I agree with Englishwomen who 
allow only their husbands into their bedrooms." 

" Or their lovers," returned the Count, with a slight 
sneer. 

" You are not mine, and you never will be, but now say 
what you have to say, for I am listening to you." 

Sartilly, confused by this sudden attack for the first time 
perhaps, in his life, maintained an embarrassed silence in the 
presence of a woman. He asked himself what was the best 
way to commence, and for a moment he lost sight of the 
object of his visit. Never had Diana de Ganges appeared 
so beautiful in his eyes, and he felt conquered by a mad 
desire to confess in the most passionate terms that it was 
only her own charms that had drawn him hither. 

" Take care," said Diana, after the silence had lasted for a 
few moments. " You will only make yourself ridiculous if 
you continue looking at me in this manner. Come, confess 
frankly that your story of the robber is but a pretext, and 
a very foolish one too, to introduce yourself into my room at 
an hour when all respectable people are asleep." 

"And suppose that such was the case 1 " exclaimed Gontran. 
" Suppose I said that I was mad for you, and that I would do 
all in my power to gain yous love ? " 

Diana did not blench before this open declaration. She 
merely gazed boldly at Sartilly, with an inexplicable smile 
upon her lips. 

" Do you intend," continued he, " to pass all your life in 
reading novels to my wife. You, who were born to lead a life 
of ease and pleasure ? "Well, this life I offer you. You have 
but to speak the word, and you shall have horses, carriages, 
and a magnificent house. Speak, and I— — " 



FirMr, Heart 27 

"If I comprehend what you say," interrupted the com- 
panion, "you oiler me your ptotection." 

" I did not care to put it so plainly, but since you have 
pronounced the word, let it pass." 

"And the money for all these luxuries will come from the 
fortune of Valentine ? " continued Mile, de Ganges. 

Gontran grew pale with anger. 

" I merely place matters in their true light," she went on. 
" You yourself have nothing ; the very house in which we 
are standing does not belong to you." 

Sartilly thought that she was endeavouring to make a 
better bargain, before committing herself, and he therefore 
replied in a half-contemptuous tone : 

" Why are you disturbing yourself, my dear girl — so that 
the money comes in freely, why question its source V 

"Count," answered Valentine's companion, "you are a 
mere fool. Such proposals may suit women of a certain class 
to whom you may have the right to make them ; but I am as 
well-born as yourself. The Ganges come of as ancient a stock 
as the Sartillys, and if I made any bargain with you, it would 
be as an equal who treats with an equal. I have willingly 
accepted Valentine's kindness because she is my friend ; but 
I have no need of yours." 

Gontran was bitterly enraged, and desired to return insult 
for insult. 

" Plague take it, my dear girl," said he, with a sneer, " I 
did not think that you were such a prude." 

" You are wrong again ; there is not a shadow of prudery 
in me, and the proof of it is, that should I elect to take a 
lover, I should trouble myself no more about doing so than I 
should in changing him as the fit took me. In the school 
where I was brought up with your wife they nicknamed me 
Fickle Heart, because I was never constant in my friendships. 
Well, Fickle Heart I was, and Fickle Heart I shall remain, 
but I will never lower myself to take your wages." 

Exasperated to the highest pitch, Gontran vainly sought 
for some means of retaliating, for her words had wounded 
him to the quick. Without thinking what he did he rested 
his hand upon the marble top of the table. As he did so he 
started violently. "Where does this blood come from'?'' 
asked he, stretching out his hand to Diana, and showing her 
that his palm was stained with blood. 



CHAPTER IV 

A DEFEAT AND A VICTORY 

At this unexpected question, a shade of uneasiness passed 
over Diana's face, but with a strong effort she recovered her- 
self. " Where does the blood come from 1 " repeated she, 
contemptuously. " I know nothing about it. You have 
scratched yourself, no doubt, in running about the garden. 
Have you come up here to ask me to bind up your wounds ? " 

" A truce to raillery," answered the Count. " The blood is 
that of the man whom I am pursuing, and you have picked 
him up and sheltered him in your room." 

" Picked him up ! A delightful expression. Pray, do you 
think that I go out at night to see if I may chance to come 
across a wounded man lying in the snow ?" 

" Why not ? You were not in bed, and must have heard 
two shots. If, after that, you remained in your own rooms, 
you must be without the slightest curiosity." 

" I heard nothing ; and if I was not in bed, it was because 
I had no desire to sleep. Besides, even if I had heard shots, 
I should not have put myself out. It is not a part of my 
duty to act as watchman in your grounds." 

"Then, you dare to assert that you are alone in your 
room 1 " 

" I should have been alone, if you had not permitted your- 
self to come to the door of my room at four o'clock in the 
morning, and if I had not been foolish enough to let you in." 

" Very good ; then nothing is left for me but to verify the 
truth of your statement," exclaimed Sartilly, walking towards' 
the door that communicated with the other rooms. 

Diana boldly barred the way. " Not a step further," said 
she, in a tone which made him stop short. 

He felt that if he wished to proceed with the search, it 
would be necessary to employ force ; and enraged as he was 
he could not bring himself to enter into a hand-to-hand 
struggle with a woman. 

" If no one was inside," muttered he between his teeth, 
" you would not oppose my passing through that door." 

" Believe what you like," retorted Diana. " If you wish it, 
you may even imagine that I have a lover concealed there, 
that I have let in during the night. Well, suppose I have 



A Defeat and a Victory 29 

done so, I am neither your wife nor your mistress, and owe 
you no explanation. By what right do you venture to 
propose to enter my room 1 " 

" The man that I am looking for was surprised by me a 
short time back in Valentine's room." 

" You lie ! You know as well as I do that Valentine never 
had a lovei - , and even if she had one you have lost all right 
to complain. You, who are constantly unfaithful to her, and 
who this very night have insolently offered to purchase my 
honour. But I am wearied out with hearing you, so make 
an end of this, I beg of you, and leave my room at once." 

Gontran was not accustomed to be treated in this manner. 
Passion had obtained so strong a mastery over him that it 
was all that he could do to restrain himself from using 
violence to the insolent woman who defied him. But he still 
had sense enough to perceive that by doing so he would not 
gain his ends. If the wounded man had really sought refuge 
in Mile, de Ganges' room, and if he discovered him there it 
would be a clear proof that Valentine was not guilty, for a 
lover does not go from one mistress to another, even if they 
are dwelling under the same roof ; and then again, even if 
Valentine had received this wandering lover of her own free will 
she could deny the fact, and Diana was quite capable of taking 
the blame of the whole transaction upon herself. Her exposi- 
tion of her possible line of action proved this beyond all doubt. 

Gontran therefore defeated by the indomitable will of his 
wife's companion, could derive no benefit from this strange 
incident, save that of riveting the chain of slavery tighter 
round his wife, and compelling her to submit to his wishes, 
by threatening her that he would use those rights which the 
law grants to the outraged husband, of taking the punishment 
into his own hands. 

"You send me away," said he with an ironical smile. 
" The world seems to be turned upside down. But remember 
my turn will come." 

" That, doubtless, means that to-morrow you will dismiss 
your wife's eompanion ; but I will not give you that trouble. 
To-morrow I shall leave the house, but until I do so this 
loom is mine, and I again order you to leave it." 

" Very good," replied M. de Sartilly, drily. " Think your- 
self lucky in being a woman, and go when you like ; I shall 
know where to lind you again, and as I presume you will 
soon furnish yourself with a lover, I will make him responsible 
for your insolence." With these words he was about to 
leave when Diana de Ganges exclaimed in a mocking tone of 
voice : " Take care ; you are forgetting your lantern." 

This last stroke completed Gontran's exasperation. He felt 



30 Fickle Heart 

that he was an object of ridicule, and he hastened to put an 
end to a scene so humiliating to his self-love. 

He snatched up the lantern which on entering he had 
placed on the table, and furiously hurried away. As he did 
so, he heard Diana shut herself in, and as he reached the 
garden his passion exploded. For the first time in a life 
which as far as love affairs went had been a tolerably suc- 
cessful one, he had been repulsed, and he cursed the woman 
who had done so, shaking his fist as he did so in the direction 
of her rooms. " The haughty devil has jeered at me enough, 
I hope. She has the man with her. Where did he come 
from, and who is it that fired at him ! I do not know, but 
I begin to believe that after all my wife is innocent. What 
does that matter however. She shall pay for all, and I need 
no longer play the part of a sentimental lover. I have got her 
tight now, she must obey me, and that old wizard of a father- 
in-law of mine must put his hand in his pocket." 

With these words the cynical gentleman took the path by 
which he had come, and by the light of the lantern in the 
snow he perceived what he had not seen before, the prints of 
a woman's feet going towards the place where the steps of 
the fugitive had stopped. 

"Good," thought Gontran ; " now I see it all. She came 
down when she heard the shots. She saw the wounded 
man who could get no further. She went up to him, and 
supported him to her room, she may even have carried him, 
for she is strong enough. I am not astonished at having got 
blood on my fingers, he must have touched the table with 
his hand as he passed, and now I will wager that he is snugly 
ensconced in that jade's bed. I shall have a nice account 
to settle with her some day ; but I will begin with Valentine." 

Instead of following the windings of the path, he crossed 
the lawn, so as to get back more quickly, and in the hall he 
was much annoyed at meeting his valet, who had not gone 
to bed, as he had been oi-dered to do. But Francis did not 
give him time to say anything. " Your lordship will pardon 
me for having disobeyed you in waiting up for you here. I 
thought it was my duty, but I am too much attached to you 
to conceal the fact that for some time past strange things 
have happened here." 

" Which have nothing to do with me," interrupted 
Gontran. 

" I know that — but — I have seen " 

" What 1 " 

'' That Mile, de Ganges goes out, at hours that '' 

" Then you have been watching her, it seems 1 " 

" Oh, I have seen what I have, without wishing to do so, 



A Defeat and a Victory 31 

It often happens (hat I cannot sleep, and then I sit at my 
window, and smoke my pipe, with all respect to your lord- 
ship, and more than once I have seen mademoiselle crossing 
the garden. It seemed to me, as if she were coming home. 
But had it not been for what has occurred to-night, 1 should 
not have ventured to say anything to your lordship. There 
was a man for certain in the grounds, and someone connived 
at his escape. And that is why, seeing that your lordship 
was about to go Mile, de Ganges' room " 

" You have made a mistake, master Francis, and I do not 
like this habit of yours of watching what I do. You are my 
valet, and it is your business to confine yourself to the duties 
of your position, and not to do watchman's work at night in 
the garden, much less to bring me bits of gossip that I do 
not wish to hear. These are things that I do not intend to 
put up with, so prepare to leave my service. You will go 
to-morrow." 

" This is but a poor reward for my zeal. All that I have 
said or done was for your lordship's interest, for if society 
knew that people came at night into the grounds, into the 
very house, and that pistols were fired off, I am sure that 
your lordship would not be pleased." 

Gontran knew servants well, and perceived at once the 
veiled threat concealed beneath the civil language of his 
valet. 

It depended entirely upon Francis whether this compli- 
cated story should get wind or not, and if the man were 
dismissed, he would not trouble himself to hold his tongue 
in the matter. Masters are often at the mercy of their ser- 
vants. Gontran knew this, and thought it best to come to 
terms. "Very well," replied he. "This time I will pass 
over it, but do not begin again, and remember to keep a 
silent tongue in your head." 

" Has your lordship no need of me for your night toilet 1 " 
asked the valet obsequiously. 

" I have already said that I do not require you. Leave me." 

Francis feeling that his position was once more secure, 
bowed, and disappeared in the direction of the servants' 
staircase. 

" The rogue," muttered Gontran, " he would be ready and 
willing to go to my father-in daw, and tell him that I was 
the lover of my wife's companion. Pence take it, it would 
not be a judicious moment for me to quarrel with old 
Vacheron. I'll make a clean sweep of them all out of the 
house, when I have got the three hundred thousand francs, anil 
I now know what steps to take to compel Valentine to ask 
for them, and so let me strike the iron while it is hot." 



32 Fickle Heart 

These few words exactly showed the steps that M. de 
Sartilly contemplated taking. He wished to profit by the 
state of mind in which he had left Valentine, to force her 
to consent to ask for the money from her father, and also to 
definitely assume the reins of government, and to hold as in 
a vice the charming woman who was unfortunate enough to 
be his wife. He had the whole plan cut and dried and ready 
for execution. 

He quickly ascended the staircase, passed through the 
little drawing-room, then opened the bedroom door, and 
entered the room like an actor in a melodrama with these 
words on his lips, " And now, madame, for the settlement of 
our affairs.''' Nothing was wanting in either his gesture, 
his tone or his attitude. He was standing erect, with his 
arms crossed, and his brows bent, before the unhappy 
Valentine, who had not the strength to rise from the arm- 
chair into which she had cast herself when he left the room 
uttering those terrible words, " Remember that I have the 
right to kill you. - '' 

She believed that he had returned solely for the purpose 
of exercising this terrible right, which luckily the legislature 
<iuly permits in circumstances very different to the present 
ones. Sartilly did not think of anything of the kind, all he 
wanted to do first was to frighten her so much that he could 
bring her to a point from which he could dictate bis own 
conditions. He only succeeded too well in his designs. 

" Do with me as you like," murmured the Countess in a 
suppressed voice. 

" You confess then that you are guilty 1 " said he looking 
at her steadily. 

" Xever," answered she, " but I am the victim of a fatal 
combination of circumstances, against which I have not the 
courage to struggle." 

" A man was in your room at three o'clock in the morning, 
and you call that a fatal combination of circumstances ? " 

"You know well enough that he was there without my 
knowledge, he must have told you that himself when you 
found him." 

"The wretch managed to escape me." 

Valentine did not dare to ask if he was wounded, although 
the fate of the unfortunate man interested her greatly, for 
had he not wished for death, sooner than compromise her good 
name. Gontran took care to say nothing to her on this 
matter, had he done so, it would have been necessary to have 
spoken of his visit to Diana de Ganges, and it was part of 
his plan to let his wife believe that the fugitive had suc- 
ceeded in escaping from the grounds. " I pursued him, but he 



A Defeat and a Victory 33 

could run more swiftly than I could,'' continued he, throwing 
himself into a chair opposite to Valentine, as though he were 
utterly exhausted. "And no," he went on, "there is at 
present in Paris, a scoundrel who can boast of having passed 
an hour alone with the Countess de Sartilly. Mind I do not 
say that he was your lover, but if he vaunts it how can I give 
him the lie ? What am I to do? I ask you yourself, Valentine." 
As he uttered that name, which he had never made use of 
since their estrangement, the young woman raised her head, 
and a gleam of hope shone in her eyes. " You must decide," 
murmured she. " I submit myself to your will." 

"I ask you the question, because innocent or guilty, you 
have still, I presume, some regard for the honour of the 
name that you bear." 

"Can it really be you who are speaking to me in this 
manner?" exclaimed Mme. de Sartilly, surprised and delighted. 
" Believe me, that I should not speak to you thus had you 
become entirely indifferent to me. I have not forgotten the 
serious differences that have caused an estrangement between 
us for more than a year. I have already told you that your 
ideas of life and mine did not agree, and that little by little 
a coolness arose between us. You attributed this coldness 
to a dissimilarity of tastes, but I want you to understand 
that in this you deceived yourself. I have many and great 
faults, I confess, faults which. I owe to the manner in which 
I was brought up. I have too much respect for, and pride 
in, the name I bear ; and to speak frankly to you, I will 
confess that I hesitated much before I could bring myself to 
marry you. You were very wealthy, and I had run through 
nearly all my fortune, and it seemed to me that I should fall 
in the social scale if I made a mercenary marriage, and I 
never should have done so had I not loved you." 
" Loved me ! " repeated Valentine deeply affected. 
" And if I did not love you, do you believe that I should 
have taken so tragic a view of the incident of to-night ? 
Do you not understand that I could, like so many other 
husbands in the upper classes in which I move, live with 
you, as the greater portion of the men of my rank lived 
under the reign of Louis XV. 1 I should have closed my 
eyes to your doings, provided that you did not hamper mine. 
Perhaps it would have been the wisest course to have 
adopted, but my dream was to live happily with my wife. 
It is not an aristocratic idea, but no one is perfect." 

All this was uttered with such an accent of half cynical 
sincerity that Valentine in a moment forgot the just causes 
of resentment that she had against her husband. " If all 
that you have said were only true ! " murmured she softly. 



34 Fickle Heart 

" I never lie ; but do not deceive yourself as to the mean- 
ing of my words. I do not retract anything that I have 
said to you. I intended always to live like a gentleman of 
high birth and position, and to lead the life to which I am 
entitled. But beneath the Count de Sartilly there is a 
Gontran, a Gontran who loves you, and whose heart you have 
wounded deeply, for love is like honour, and the first blow 
aimed at it inflicts a mortal wound." 

" And you suspect me of having deceived you 1 And with 
whom, great Heavens, with some stranger '( " 

"Listen to me, Valentine. Many strange things have 
passed here. I do not condemn you, but I cannot acquit 
you. I ask you for no explanations, for if you were guilty 
you would invent some falsehood in reply, and if you were 
innocent you would have no explanations to give, since you 
then would know nothing of the incident that has upset our 
life. I shall always have that scene before my eyes, and my 
pride revolts at the idea that I may by chance come across 
this man again, and, Valentine, I swear to you that should I 
ever obtain the proof that he has been your lover. I will 
kill you both." 

"And you would act rightly," answered the Countess 
quickly ; " but it is not in my power to prove to you that 
such a thing could never happen." 

" Perhaps it is," said her husband after a short silence. 
" Speak then, and tell me what I must do to convince you. 
Would you like me to give you a written authorisation to 
kill me, should I ever deceive you 1 " 

" You would give me that 1 " asked Gontran, with a smile. 
" This instant." 

" There is some originality in the idea, but I should not 
present this note of hand when it fell due ; you would let it 
be dishonoured, and you would be right. Besides, even 
supposing that I were mad enough to use the authority with 
which you had furnished me, I expect that it would cost me 
dear. The case has already been decided in court, and the 
man who kills his fellow creature by virtue of a written 
permission, has been, and ever will be, condemned as a 
murderer. So," continued he with a smile, " if you wish to 
re-assure me as to the future, you must find out some other 
means of doing so." 

" Find one, and I agree to it in advance." 
Gontran made a feint of reflecting, putting on the air of 
a man who is desirous of satisfying some whim on the part 
of a woman he loves, however absurd he may consider it. 
" I think I have hit upon one," said he gaily. 
" Tell me what it is." 



A Defeat and a Victor// 35 

" You really mean it, well and good ; have you writing 
materials here ? " 

" There on that table." 

The Count sat down at it and began to write ; his wife 
rose from her seat and stood behind him. 
" Read it," said he, when he had concluded. 
With trembling fingers, she took the sheet of note-paper 
and read aloud : 

"Life is a burden tome. I die voluntarily. Let no one 
be blamed for my death. Heaven will judge me." 
" Well i " asked she. 

"What, do you not understand that if I had such a 
paper as this written in your hand, and signed by you, that 
I could kill you whenever I liked and without any risk, for 
no one would suspect me of having sent you into the other 
world 1 I could choose what I liked — steel, fire, or poison." 

Without answering a word, Valentine took her husband's 
place at the table, and unhesitatingly began to write, and 
signed the declaration which might prove to be her death 
warrant. 

" Enough, dearest one," cried the Count, affecting to stay 
her hand. "It was a mere proof that I do not wish to 
push further." 

" And I wish to carry the matter to the end," answered 
Valentine, in a firm tone. " For I am only too happy to 
prove to you that I am, and ever shall be, perfectly blame- 
less," and she copied what he had written literally. Gontran 
had forgotten to put in the date ; she did this, and handing 
him the paper, said calmly, "Take it." 

And as he pretended to hesitate, she thrust into his breast- 
pocket this anticipated testament, which placed her life in 
his hands. 

Then this high-born gentleman did the only thing which 
showed some appearance of genuine behaviour, he knelt 
down before her, took her hands in his, and covered them 
with kisses. He even managed to squeeze out a tear. 
" Never again," cried he. " I was mad to doubt you — but 
now I love you, I adore you." 

" And you will never leave me again." 
" Never." 

" And see, you are in the room which you have deserted 
for twelve months," exclaimed the Countess pressing him to her 
heart, then her lips whispered into Gontran's ear, " will you 
remain with me ? " And he remained, for he thought, 
" To-morrow I shall have the three hundred thousand francs 
from Daddy Vacheron." 



OHAPTEE V 

THE SATIS COVERLET 

Some philosophers assert that love is only a certain form of 
madness, and perhaps they are not far out in making such a 
statement, but at any rate it is one that cures itself. We are 
unable to send back the woman that we have ceased to care 
for. as we can articles purchased in the shops, but we cum 
abandon her. Even this cannot always be effected in married 
life. Man and wife who have taken a dislike to each other 
when the period of adoration is over, have no resource left 
them but the court of divorce, and many sooner than proceed 
to this extremity resign themselves to wear their chain which 
weighs so heavily on them, for the rest of their lives. The 
world knows nothing about it, aud all they have to do is to 
suffer for the remainder of their existence unless indeed they 
seek for other consolations ; and ordinarily they do not deprive 
themselves of these. But love which has received the 
sanction of the law has also its pleasures, and the day after 
her reconciliation with her husband Mine, de Sartiily was 
the happiest of women. A brief period of happiness hail 
made her forget months of misery. Gontran had left her in 
the morning assuring her of his undying love, and after his 
departure she had revelled in golden dreams. She had for- 
given him everything, his neglect, his unkindness, his out- 
ragous suspicions. She almost blessed the stranger who by 
his escalade of her window, had produced so happy a result. 
She was proud now that Gontran was not only her husband, 
but her lover. It was true that he had not made use of a 
balcony like Romeo, but he had come back to her of his own 
free will, and this unlocked for return on his part, had largely 
compensated her for all that she had suffered, since she had 
won him again for ever ; at least she believed so. What had 
he not sworn to her in the last few hours ? She believed in 
all his oaths, and it seemed to her as if she were about to 
commence a fresh existence. She vowed to herself that she 
would plunge into it headlong, that she would put on 
coquettish airs to please him, and as she hardly knew how to 
set about doing so, she determined to consult her dear Diana, 
and to learn from her the secret of how to charm. 

When Valentine woke up she was still in the land of 



The Satin Coverlet 37 

dreams. It seemed to her as if the sky was of a deeper blue, 
the song of the birds more sweet as they flew from bough to 
bough, that the leaves upon the trees looked more fresh, and 
that the snow had disappeared, that snow upon which had been 
visible the blood-stained traces of a man who had braved 
death to save a woman from being surprised by her husband. 
She rang for the maid who had been for some time awaiting 
the summons. In general Valentine got up at a much more 
early hour, and the wily lady's-maid guessed the reason of her 
prolonged slumber. At the first peal of the bell she hurried 
to the room, and her mistress at once informed her that she 
was going that day to breakfast with her father. This had 
been arranged between Gontran and herself, for the former 
had not omitted to remind her of the sum of money which he 
required to start a racing stable, which he intended to do in 
partnership with his friend Viscount de Saint Senier. 

" Had your ladyship breakfasted here, you would have 
done so alone," said Lisa ; " for the Count went out on horse- 
back early, and told Francis that he would not be back until 
half -past twelve. 

" Has Mme. de Ganges been here this morning ? " asked 
Valentine. 

" No, madame, I have not seen her." 

" I will go to her rooms before I leave." 

" What dress will madame wear 1 " 

" The one I tried on the day before yesterday ; I think 
that it suits me." 

" Everything suits madame. The real effect of a dress is 
produced by the person who wears it. With a material of 
fifteen sous the yard madame would be better dressed than 
the Viscountess de Saint Senier with all her silks." 

' ' Why do you speak to me of her ? " 

" Why, I do not know why. I saw her go into the Bois 
yesterday in her fine carriage, but oh, so detestably 
dressed." 

"There is no need to tell me that," said Mme. de Sartilly 
going into her dressing-room . That day she was longer than 
ususal over her toilet, and Lisa drew a happy augury for 
the future felicity of her mistress from it, and profited by her 
good humour to indulge in a little gossip ; for the Countess 
without being too familiar did not decline to talk with her at 
times. 

" Did your ladyship hear nothing last night ? " asked she as 
she was assisting her mistress to dress. 

" No," answered Valentine, rather astonished, and a little 
alarmed. " Why do you ask me ? " 

" Because there were some pistol shots in the Eue 



38 Fickle Heart 

Villejust ; I had just gone to sleep, and I woke up with a start, 
I was so frightened." 

" Had any person been attacked near our house 1 " asked 
Mme. de Sartilly putting on an air of indifference. 

"I do not know, Francis went to the window, but he could 
see nothing. In my opinion it was not a robber, for nobody 
has been found, and besides the sound seemed to come from 
the side upon which the Saint Seniers live. The count often 

comes home very late, and perhaps -well perhaps he found 

someone in his house." 

"I will not have you occupy yourself with what goes on in 
the neighbouring houses," returned the Countess coldly. 
" Assist me to dress." 

Lisa obeyed her and devoted herself to her mistress's 
toilet : but she had easily perceived that Mme. de Sartilly 
was disturbed, and she inwardly determined to make Francis 
talk, for at present he had told her very little for fear of being 
dismissed by his master. In the height of her newly-formed 
happiness, Valentine had almost forgotten the nocturnal 
incident which had turned out so well for her. Lisa had 
recalled it to her mind all in a moment, and had explained in 
her own way by insinuating that the Count Saint Senier had 
fired on his wife's lover. 

Her explanation might be a true one, and Valentine was 
the more willing to believe it for the reason that she did not 
like the Viscountess at all, who was an old coquette and had 
more than once wounded her by the high and mighty air that 
she assumed. But for all that Valentine was annoyed and 
almost alarmed at finding that her servants were comment- 
ing among themselves on the incidents of the night. She 
had made her peace with Gontran who had not told her the 
result of his man hunt, and she did not dare to question him 
further on the matter. She would have liked to have known 
what had become of the fugitive, that brave and courageous 
young man who knew so well how to sacrifice himself for a 
woman, and at the same time she wanted someone to whom 
she could confide her happiness, someone whom she could 
tell that Gontran had returned to her, and that her heart was 
overflowing with joy. And to whom could she entrust this 
joy so pure, and delightful, if not to the friend of her 
childhood, to that Diana de Ganges, who so little resembled 
her, and whom she yet loved with all a sister's affection. 

This independent minded companion was no saint, but she 
was devoted body and soul to Valentine, and had never given 
anything but good advice to her former schoolmate, who had 
now become her benefactress, though she did not pretend to 
put herself forward as a model to be imitated. 



The Satin Coverlet 39 

She might have injured her in many ways, for she had 
long since perceived the feelings of the Count de Sartilly for 
her, and she had now acquired the proof that she had but to 
say the word to become the mistress of that shameless pro- 
fligate. 

But Valentine did not know of all this, and could think of 
nothing better than to take her into her confidence, and 
determined to go off to ask her advice at once, for she was 
not certain of finding her in her room after midday. Diana 
had the fullest liberty to come and go as she thought fit, and 
she would sometimes go out alone on horseback just as the 
fancy seized on her. 

Valentine desired to see her before her husband's return, 
for in leaving her, he had promised to take her out to dinner 
to a restaurant, where they would dine together in a private 
room more like two lovers, than man and wife. 

At ten o'clock she was ready to go out, and her victoria 
was waiting for her at the gate opening on the Avenue 
d'Eylau. Her father breakfasted at eleven o'clock, so she 
had plenty of time for a long talk with her friend. As may 
be conjectured it was not necessary to go into the garden to 
reach the apartments of Mile, de Ganges, but merely to pass 
through the reception-rooms which opened into one another 
on the first floor of the mansion. Diana was waited on by 
the under lady's-maid, a young girl vho was as it were 
serving her apprenticeship in the hopes of one day taking 
Lisa's place, and her duties were very light, for Mile, de 
Ganges always dressed herself, and only employed her to " do 
the room," and wait at table when she desired to have her 
meals in private. Mme. de Sartilly was not much surprised 
at not finding this girl when she entered her companion's 
rooms, but what did surprise her was, that she found no one 
there at all. Diana generally occupied a little sitting-room 
opening into the lobby in which she had received the 
Count between three and four in the morning. She usually 
passed her time in reading novels, for she never did any 
work ; she despised embroidery, crewel work, crotchet, and 
other feminine occupations ; and when she did not read, she 
wrote. "What was it that she wrote ? Her thoughts on 
men, manners, and things ? Perhaps so, for the Countess 
had often found her writing in a large book with a blue 
cover. But as Diana was not in her little sitting-room, 
Valentine presumed that she was in bed, and entered her 
chamber without knocking at the door. There her astonish- 
ment changed to stupefaction, the room was empty, and the 
bed had not been slept in. On the other hand, however, 
several of the drawers were wide open, amongst others a nest 



40 Fickle Heart 

of drawers of imitation Buhl work, in which Diana was in 
the habit of keeping her jewellery and private papers. All 
at once Valentine uttered a cry of horror ; the coverlet of the 
bed, a coverlet of white satin, was absolutely drenched in 
blood. 



CHAPTER VI 



A SELF-MADE MAN 



" They have murdered her," murmured the Countess. In- 
deed, the entire aspect of the chamber would have led to the 
conviction that Mile, de Ganges had been murdered and 
robbed, for the whole room was in a terrible state of con- 
fusion, looking as if it had been sacked. Dresses had been 
flung here and there on the carpet, drawers were half opened. 
It seemed as if every spot had been ransacked for money or 
articles of value. Blood had been spilt on the coverlet, but 
nowhere else. Diana must have been struck as she reposed 
on the bed, but what had been done with her body ? Valen- 
tine thought that the murderer might have dragged it into 
the dressing-room, and she had the courage to go in and look 
about her ; but she found no signs of the corpse of her 
friend, nor traces of her murderer. 

There was nothing either in the dining-room. 

The murderer and his victim had both disappeared, as 
ghosts speed away with the first dawn of day. Terrified out of 
her life, the Countess did not remain long to seek for asolution 
of the mystery. Her first impulse was to fly from the terrible 
spot. Hardly knowing what she did, she ran down the 
staircase and threw open the door, which led into the garden, 
and came face to face with her husband's valet, Francis, who, 
stealthy as a wolf, had crept thither. "When he caught sight 
of his mistress, he started and would fain have fled, but it 
was too late. 

•' Where is Mile, de Ganges ? " 

" I 1 do not know," stammered he. 

Perhaps this was the very wretch who had committed the 
crime, and there was nothing to prevent his leaping upon her, 
and strangling her to prevent her repeating that she had 
caught him at Diana's door. All that she thought of now 
was how to free herself from his dangerous presence, 



A Self -made Man 41 

Why have you come here ? " asked she, nerving herself to 
speak calmly. 

" I was looking for Rose, Mile. Ganges' maid." 

" She is not in her mistress's room. Go to your duties, 
you have no business here." 

Francis hastened away, and the Countess had the courage 
to pass again through the rooms after locking the door opening 
into the garden, as well as those that had led into the 
reception-rooms, and taking all the keys with her, so as to be 
sure that no one in her absence could enter Diana's rooms. 
What could she do now 1 Call up the other servants. If 
she did so, she would have to enter into all those explana- 
tions which she was most anxious to avoid. Should she go 
and give notice to the Commissary of police ? That would 
be worse again. He would institute an inquiry, and perhaps 
would end by discovering who had fired the pistol shots in 
the garden during the night. Besides, the strange disap- 
pearance of Mile, de Ganges did not absolutely prove that 
she was dead. The blood with which the bed was drenched 
might not be hers after all, and the confusion in which the 
room was, might be the result of a hurried flight. 

Why should Diana have fled away in such a manner like 
a guilty person who is escaping ? Mme. de Sartilly could not 
solve this mystery, and asked herself if this new enigma had 
not something to do with the events of the past night. No 
doubt Gontran could throw some light on the matter, since 
he had darted off in pursuit of the handsome stranger. It 
was not likely that she would see him until much later in 
the day, but she had every faith in him, and she felt that he 
would be annoyed if she did anything without first con- 
sulting him. But before she could do so, she had a difficult 
mission to carry out as regarded her father, and she did not 
dare delay it as she was aware of its importance. The 
victoria was ready, she got into it, and drove off without 
returning to her own rooms, or without meeting either 
Francis, or Lisa, again. 

The whole house had on its usual appearance, and no one 
could suspect that a strange and unheard-of horror had been 
acted in it the previous night. 

A little re-assured by this apparent calm, the Countess said 
to herself, that she had taken fright too quickly, that 
doubtless all these strange events might be easily explained, 
and that all she had to do was to plead her husband's cause 
with her father. It was a nasty business to touch on, for 
the Count de Sartilly, in his position as her husband, had 
command of very large sums of money, and the need which 
he alleged he had for three hundred thousand francs was 



42 Fickle Heart 

not one that could be entertained. A rich man might make 
a sufficiently good appearance in society without starting a 
racing stable, and M. Vacheron, who had no interest in 
the improvement of the equine genus, would not feel much 
disposed to permit a sporting son-in-law to gratify his tastes 
at his expense. 

Had Gontran's request been made a day before, Valentine 
would decidedly have refused to expose herself to certain 
refusal, but her husband had known how to overcome her 
reluctance, and his wishes were now perfect commands for 
his grateful wife. For him she would have encountered 
much greater risks, and besides she had still some hopes of 
success. 

*Peter Cyprien Vacheron, the widower of a shop-girl, and 
the father of a Countess, lived in the first floor of a hand- 
some house in the Eue de la Neva, a house which he 
had built for the purpose of letting but which he had 
never let. This arch millionaire was in the habit of building 
palaces and selling, but not of living in them himself. He 
would not have felt at home in them, for he had remained a 
tradesman to the tips of his fingers, and he had a horror of 
everything that had the slightest appearance of display. He 
lived, without carriages, horses, or footmen ; his establish- 
ment consisting of one old man-servant, and a venerable old 
lady who acted as his housekeeper, who had been in his 
service thirty years, and had therefore witnessed the birth of 
Valentine. There was the more credit in his leading so 
simple an existence, for he had begun life as a journeyman 
mason, and had made his fortune with great rapidity. He 
had not been intoxicated by his success, which was due 
entirely to his honesty and intelligence, and he was not one 
of those self-made men, who foolishly endeavour to disguise 
their humble origin, and in his whole disposition there was 
not a shadow of vice. His chief pleasure was to walk about 
in the new parts of the city, where he would stand and gaze 
on the buildings which had been erected by his enterprise 
and capital. All the love which his heart contained was 
concentrated on his daughter, and the only remorse that he 
felt was at not having married her as he desired. The 
marriage which he had dreamed of for her, would have been 
with some good steady fellow, well principled as his father- 
in-law, but better educated, and holding a superior position, 
for Daddy Vacheron felt keenly his want of education, and 
Valentine who had been brought up in one of the best schools 
in Paris, with most aristocratic surroundings, would not have 
been happy with an ex- workman. But this prince of son-in- 
laws did not present himself at the time, and unfortunately 



A Self-made Man 43 

Valentine fell madly iu love with a Count in embarrassed 
circumstances whom she had met in a house where she 
occasionally visited The ex-contractor had made a stout 
resistance, but he had ended by yielding to the entreaties of 
his daughter, and he never ceased regretting having done so. 
Thus runs the world along, and fathers who yield too readily 
find their punishment in it. 

His only compensation was that Valentine never ceased 
to love him. and continually paid him visits, for he seldom 
came to his son-in-law's house except on grand occasions, and 
then much against his inclination. For some months past 
Valentine had npt seen him so frequently, because she feared 
lest he should divine that her married life was not a happy 
one, and she wished if possible to hide it from him. But 
to-day she could shov herself with a clear conscience for she 
was brimming over with happiness, and she calculated that 
her appearance as a happy wife would assist her in obtaining 
what she required. Eleven o'clock chimed from the belfry 
of the Russian church, as she sprang from her victoria. She 
knew that her father set great store on punctuality, and she 
had timed herself exactly so as to put him in a good humour. 
She found him waiting in the dining-room watching the clock 
so as to sit down to table at the proper moment. Peter 
Vacheron was a well-preserved man of sixty years of age, 
who did not look more than fifty, talk stoutly-built, with 
a high colour, his features which were framed by grey beard 
and whiskers were regular, and his expression was a pleasant 
one. In his dress he did not follow the fashion, but he was 
excessively neat, and always wore a black frock coat, and neck- 
tie, grey trousers, and boots with thick soles, and square toes. 

" Ah, here thou art ! n cried he, advancing to embrace his 
daughter, who gave him her two cheeks to kiss, one after the 
other. '"This time thou art punctual. Ah, I know well 
enough when thou art late that it is the fault of my fine 
son-in-law. But never mind since thou art here. Sit down 
opposite to me. my dear child, and let us breakfast, for I am 
dying of hunger." 

Valentine took her seat, well-pleased to find him in such a 
good temper, but watching anxiously for a favourable moment 
at which to open the important question. 

'• Thou mayest not have such a grand breakfast as at thine 
own house, but at any rate thou wilt not have a great 
lanky fellow in livery behind thy chair. Thou hast I 
suppose got accustomed to it, but I never could, it takes 
away my appetite." 

" Is that why you come so seldom to see me ? :: asked 
Madame de Sartilly with a smile. 



44 Fickle Heart 

" Partly because of that, and partly because of the fine 
manners of thy husband, he always seems to me as if he had 
just come back from the Crusades. Then I hate to hear him 
say you, and not thou " 

" It is the custom of the society in which he moves." 

" I don't care a rap for custom. Thou also sayest you, and 
I cannot get accustomed to such fashions. When husband 
and wife love each other, my little one, they say ' thee ' and 
' thou,' remember. Thy poor mother would have been much 
hurt had I not said ' thou ' to her." 

" I assure you, my dear father, people can say ' you,' and 
yet love each other very dearly." 

" Oh yes, parblew, I know thou lovest this noble Count, and 
I»blame thee not for doing so, but I am far from sure that 
he does the same to thee. You know that there have been 
clouds on the marriage horizon." 

" The clouds have all fled, and the glass is set at fair, 
whilst I, am the happiest of women." 

" Then I will forgive him for flinging his money out of 
window." 

Valentine trembled, for this allusion to the prodigalities of 
her husband did not look well for the success of the loan 
that she was going to ask for from her father. 

" And yet, my darling," continued M. Vacheron, " the last 
time that thou earnest to breakfast with me, thou wert not 
so satisfied with thy husband's conduct to thee. Thou didst 
not complain, but then thee never does so, only I could see 
from thy face that thou wert not happy. Thine eyes were 
red, and there were all the signs of weeping about thee." 

" I shall never have cause to weep again,"" returned 
Valentine quickly. 

" All the better, for if I again see that thou art unhappy, 
I shall get angry once and for all, not with thee, but with 
that noble Count, who has considered that he has done thee 
too much honour in espousing thee. It was thy wish, but 
he must take measures for thy happiness, and if he does 
not " 

" I assure you, my dear father, that Gontran is kindness 
itself to me." 

''Thou defend'st him, thou art too good, but I distrust 
a man who spends his days in racing stables, and his nights 
in gambling clubs." 

" Not all his nights. Yesterday, for instance, he took me 
to a ball at Madame de Muire's, and we did not get home 
until this morning." 

" Yes, that was just once in a way. It appears to me that 
he generally comes home at the time when I am getting up. 



.1 Self-made Man 45 

Is that the right life for a husband to lead ? That ia not the 
way to have a family of young children." 

His daughter blushed at this rather broad remark. 

" Thou art very foolish to permit him to treat thee in such 
a manuer. What I want is grandchildren to dandle on my 
knees, but it seems that this is no longer the fashioD, but 
what do I care for the world ? I want to be a grandfather." 

" And I hope that you will be one soon," murmured the 
young woman. 

"The sooner the better, for too much time has been 
wasted. Three years have elapsed since thou becamest 
Madame de Sartilly, and I will not have things continue like 
this. On my word I shall some day get into a rage, marrj 
again, and have another family on purpose to vex my son-in- 
law," continued the ex-contractor with a hearty laugh. 

Valentine felt that her father was right, but his manner 
wounded her. Iu the society in which she moved, people 
knew how to hide their sentiments in polished language, and 
to wrap up plain speeches in a refined envelope. Yacheron 
who was a self-made man spoke his thoughts out freely, like 
an honest fellow -who does not allow himself to be ruled by 
the customs of society. 

"Do you think, my dear father, that Gontran is not 
anxious to have an heir to his name and title?" asked 
Madame de Sartilly. 

'' His name and title ! Ah, there thou goest. He has 
made thee see through his glasses, this fine gentleman. Now 
thou talkest exactly as he does. My name is a thousand 
times more respectable than his is, my girl. Dost thou 
understand that ? His ancestors were nobles, and mine 
labourers, well — what of that? It is the chance of birth 
that has made him what he is, whereas / owe all to myself, 
and I think that that is a much grander thing. Try to 
remember this lesson, my daughter." 

''As heaven is my witness, my dear father, I will not 
forget it, but surely a woman is permitted to defend her 
husband ? " 

These words were uttered with an air of such frank 
simplicity that Tacheron's heart softened at once, for he 
adored his daughter, and would have given all he was worth 
to have spared her from annoyance. 

"Well, well," answered he pleasantly, "do not be vexed, 
my little one, if my son-in-law is going to turn over a new 
leaf, I will forgive him with all my heart for the trouble 
that he has caused thee. And so thou tell'st me that since 
thy last visit here, things have been going on smoother at 
home." 



46 Fickle Heart 

" Gontran has come back to me." 

" Very gracious of him indeed. Why thou art as pretty 
as a Venus, as good as gold, and as full of sense as an egg is* 
of meat. If thy husband does not appreciate all thy good 
qualities, it is because he is short-sighted. And so he has 
come back to thee, good, we will see if he will remain." 

" I will endeavour to keep him always now." 

" It is his duty to try and please thee. Ah, my poor 
child, hadst thou but listened to me, thou wouldst not have 
been in such a plight. When I think that thou couldst 
have married that worthy Henri Trevieres. He was one of 
those that loved thee, and was made for thee. The son 
of an architect, intelligent, laborious, rich by what he 
inherited from his father, and with every chance of becoming 
much more so, a civil engineer who has passed the college. 
Thou art going to tell me that he is not a count, eh 1 " 

" No father, I have no particular love for a title, but I am 
very fond of Gontran, as you well know." 

"Thou hast an answer for everything, little puss," returned 
Vacheron, with a fond smile. " Besides what is done is 
done. Let us speak of something else, how dost thou like 
this mutton stew, which Bridget has cooked for us. I will 
lay a wager that thy man cook could not make one like it. 
Thou use'st to eat it with a good appetite formerly." 

" And so I do now, it is delicious." 

M. Vacheron became more good-tempered, and recalled to 
his daughter's recollection tales of the days when she was 
still a child. Madame de Sartilly followed the line of conver- 
sation that her father had commenced, and the breakfast 
proceeded more calmly than it had begun. Valentine, 
however, was not oblivious of her real mission, and she 
could not restrain her mind from wandering back to it, for 
it seemed to her as if the prospect of procuring the loan 
that Gontran desired was more and more doubtful. 

She endeavoured to pave the way to it, by leading the 
conversation to the cost of living in Paris, and the great 
expense which her husband had to meet in keeping up a large 
and expensive house. But the ex-contractor turned a deaf 
ear to what she said, and when she persisted, he broke out 
suddenly : 

" Thou hast come to ask me for money 1 " 

" Not for myself," returned Valentine rashly. 

"Parbleul I knew that. What then has thy fine gentle- 
man of a husband done that he finds himself in difficulties 
with an income of three hundred thousand francs a year. 
Has he been gambling ? " 

"No, father." 



A Self-made Man 47 

"Then he haa been losing on the turf, it is the same 
thing." 

" There are no races in the winter." 

" That may be so, I know nothing about racing ; I hate 
and detest it. A fine invention it is indeed, all the mashers 
and dandies are now going in for the amelioration of the 
equine genus. That is the way in which they ruin them- 
selves. And if they were the only ones that did so it would 
not matter, but the tradesmen follow their example, and so 
do the clerks and the mechanics. I recollect a year ago, I 
went to the races at Longchamps, and came back with a sore 
heart. I saw thee there, my girl. I was a long way from 
thee. I cannot understand what amusement thou couldst 
find there." 

" Not much, father, but since Gontran goes there " 

" He goes into many other places where thou canst not put 
thy foot, thank heaven ! and he does not succeed on the 
turf as they call it. Why, I recollect last year in the month 
of June, how my gentleman had lost seven thousand five 
hundred louis on one horse. He counted it by louis, but for 
all that it was a hundred and fifty thousand francs, and I 
ought to know for I was ass enough to pay it for him." 

Terrified at this sudden outburst against racing, Valentine 
bent down her head, and kept silence. 

" There, I have got angry ; I am always doing the wrong 
thing," continued Vacheron, "but I cannot help it, my 
temper always gets the better of me, and it is a relief to let 
it come out ; but now I am quite calm. Let me know what 
thou wantest, little one ; how much is it that my son-in-law 
desires to borrow." 

Valentine saw at once that it would be best for her to 
mention the amount, and her father did not flinch at the 
formidable total. " Dost know," demanded he coldly, " how 
long I took to get together the first three hundred thousand 
francs that I possessed ? It took me twenty years, and I 
began work at fifteen. I was a mortar mixer, and supplied 
the masons. I have at times worked sixteen hours a day, 
and took two out of my night's rest to gain the knowledge 
that I was deficient in. Now, I have a dozen millions, 
without counting what I gave thee on thy marriage, and I 
tell thee that I did not gain them too easily." 

"No, certainly not," stammered Valentine, "but you have 
them now." 

"And dost thou think that I could not put them to a better 
use than to give them to a vicious idler, who will squander 
them. Well then, I say Ao. I am not mean, and I have 
proved it to thee. If to-morrow I lost all that I had, I 



48 Fickle Heart 

would go back to my work without a word of complaint, but 
I have the right, and I feel it my duty to protect thee against 
the extravagances of this man." 

"Father, I entreat you, Gontran has not lost his money at 
play, and if he wants this money it is to employ it in busi- 
ness " 

"In what sort of business ? " 

Valentine remained silent. Her power of speech failed 
her, for after what her father had said, it was impossible for 
her to tell him that her husband wanted the money to run 
horses with. 

" I see," continued he, " that thou darest not tell me, and 
I do not want to know. If he wants the money let him take 
it from thy income, since unhappily it passes through his 
hands. The law should be altered, but as it stands, it still 
protects thee. I congratulate myself upon the precautions 
that I had taken in drawing up thy settlement. Thou art 
entirely under the influence of this man, and thou wouldst 
permit him to rob you of every sou. But I took proper oare 
thy house cannot be mortgaged without thy consent, thy 
fortune is in shares in thine own name, which he cannot sell. 
Therefore thou art safe, only he has the power of influencing 
thee for evil, and is capable of finding out some means of 
robbing you of your fortune. I distrust him and also thy 
weakness of character. Swear to me that thou wilt never 
sign any papers without first consulting me." 

" You are unjust to Gontran," answered Mme. de Sartilly 
deeply wounded. "He may perhaps have his faults, but 
he would never influence me to do anything of the kind." 

She forgot that the evening before, her husband had done 
much worse in persuading her to put her name to a docu- 
ment which gave him the power to kill her with perfect 
impunity ; and even had she remembered it, she would have 
attached no importance to it, for she had copied the strange 
declaration dictated by the Count without seeing anything 
in it but a feeling of jealousy, which proved his love for her, 
and she had flung the copy of it, in Gontran's hand-writing, 
carelessly into the drawer of a table in her bedroom. She 
only thought now of the reception that he would accord her 
when she would have to tell him of her father's distinct 
refusal, whose heart however she had still hopes of soften- 
ing, for he often began by scolding and ended by yielding. 
She was trying to think of some method of touching this sensi- 
tive chord, when M. Vacheron's old man-servant half-opened 
the door, and without the slightest ceremony observed : 

" Henri Tr6vieres is here, and wants to see you. Is he to 
come in?" 



CHAPTER VII 

A STORMY INTERVIEW 

The Count de Sartilly would certainly have dismissed on the 
spot any servant of his who ventured to introduce a visitor 
during the breakfast hour, but M. Vacheron was not so 
particular, and treated his old domestic more in the light of a 
friend than of a servant. 

'■ What do you mean ? " exclaimed he. " Let him come in 
at once, Valentine and I will be delighted to see him." 

Evidently Valentine did not agree with her father on this 
point, for a dark shadow passed across her face. This 
unexpected visit of M. Trevieres was most distasteful to her, 
as it would prevent her following up the question of the loan 
for her husband, and she had not forgotten that the evening 
before, previous to their reconciliation, her husband had 
bitterly reproached her for having waltzed too often with 
this young man. However much annoyance she felt how- 
ever, she could not get up and leave, for the hope of soften- 
ing her father's heart kept her stationary, in her place. 

" Welcome, my dear Henri," cried il. Vacheron as the 
young man entered the room. " Thou didst not expect to 
rind my daughter with me?" 

"It is indeed a pleasure which I had not anticipated," 
answered Trevieres, bowing respectfully to Mme. de Sartilly. 

" But what good wind has blown thee hither ] " 

" I came on a business matter, but I see that the time is 
unfavourable, besides there will be no inconvenience to me 
in putting it off until to-morrow." 

" Not a bit of it, I have no secrets from Valentine. Sit ve 
down, my dear boy, thou wilt take thy coffee with us ? '' 

Half against bis own wishes, and to the great annoyance 
of the Countess, Trevieres took his seat. 

He was a handsome young fellow of about thirty, of a good 
figure, and well-proportioned, and with a pleasing expression. 
He was as dark as Gontran was fair, and had not pe 1 haps 
such an aristocratic air in the nai row tense of the expression, 
but his appearance was more manly and open. You had only 
to glance at him for an instant to perceive that he was an 
honourable and upright man, incapable of deviating from his 
dutv. 



50 Fickle Heart 

" I am always at your orders, my dear sir," said he, bowing. 
" But you must permit me to enquire if Mme. de Sartilly 
does not feel fatigued after the ball at which I had the 
honour to meet her last night 1 " 
" What ! dost thou go to balls ? " 

" Not very often certainly. I have not the leisure, and 
this was the first time that I had received an invitation from 
the Marchioness de Muire." 

"At a marchioness's too, and canst thou find any pleasure 
in such society ? enquired M. Vacheron. 

"I enjoyed myself very much yesterday," answered 
Trevieres, with a side-long glance at Valentine, who 
answered coldly, " I thank you, monsieur, I was a little 
tired, but a few hours' sleep set me up completely, and I 
never felt better than I do now." 

The expression of her face contradicted her -words, her 
cheeks were pale, and her eyes sunken. Trevieres had loved 
her passionately before her marriage with the Count, and 
was deeply grieved at her appearance, however he said 
nothing in reply, but addressed M. Vacheron. 

"You must not imagine, my dear friend," said he, "that 
I have given myself up entirely to society. I got my invita- 
tion to this ball by a mere chance. The Marquis de Muire 
is the chairman of the board of the railway company for 

which I was working last year ? " 

" Ah, then it was he that sent thee the invitation 1 But 
hast thou left the sei'vice of the company 1 " 

"The work which I was superintending is finished." 
"Hast thou found any other employment." 
" I have, and it was precisely on account of that, that I 
came here to have a talk with you." 

" Well speak then, thou dost not find my daughter in the 
way 1 " 

" Certainly not, I only fear to bore Mme. de Sartilly in 
explaining to you the employment that has been offered me." 
Valentine made a sign in the negative, and her father 
exclaimed, " Go on Henri, she must get used to hear business 
matters discussed, that will teach her perhaps to attend to 
her own." 

This rough speech brought the colour to the cheeks of the 
Countess, who began to feel very uncomfortable. 

" Since you desire it then, this is the business in question," 
began Henri Trevieres bowing to the Countess, as though to 
excuse himself for discussing a business matter before her. 
" A very wealthy landowner in the department of Seine et 
Marne, wishes to start a horse-breeding establishment on his 
estate." 



A Stormy Interview 51 

" What, horses again ? " growled the good man, who held 
the whole race in detestation, especially after having had to 
pay a hundred and fifty thousand francs, which his son-in-law 
had lost by backing the favourite for the Grand Prix. 

"This gentleman will form a stud farm, where he will 
breed horses, so as to fill his own training stables." 

" That is but another way of going headlong to ruin ; but 
what hast thou to do with all this ? " 

" You shall hear. The soil is excellent, and the buildings 
are erected, but there is a scarcity of water, or at least there 
is not enough for the requirements of the stud. It is there- 
fore proposed that I should undertake the sinking of three 
artesian wells. It will be a long job, and a very important 
one, and a kind of business which I thoroughly understand." 

" Good, my boy, good ! And now as to the remunera- 
tion?" 

" Nothing could be better. I shall be royally paid, and if 
I succeed I shall receive a handsome bonus." 

" Then I advise thee to close with the offer ; that is of 
course after having made enquiries as to the solvency of thy 
employer." 

" Oh ! there is no fear about that. He is enormously 
wealthy, and in this speculation he will have a partner 
almost as rich as himself." 

"Good, but get as much money as you can in advance, for 
I have an idea that these two idiots will squander their 
capital. What are their names 1 Perhaps I know them." 

" I have not yet heard the partner's name, but the land- 
owner with whom I have been in correspondence is named 
Viscount de Saint Senier." 

"Why, he is my daughter's neighbour!" exclaimed 
Vacheron. 

" Yes, now I remember, his house is only separated from 
that of M, de Sartilly by the Eue Villejust," replied 
Trevieres. 

"He is very intimate with my son-in-law," said the ex- 
contractor, looking steadily at Valentine. At the commence- 
ment of this conversation she had trembled with affright 
when the young engineer spoke of a gentleman who was 
about to start a training stable. When he mentioned M. de 
Saint Senier's name, her countenance fell, so that her father 
guessed everything. " Come, daughter mine," said he 
bluntly, " this partner of thy neighbour's is to be thy hus- 
band, eh ? " 

" I — I do not know," stammered the Countess. 

" Come, do not lie, for that will do thee no good with me. 
Confess that it was to carry out this fine project that thy 



52 Fickle, Heart 

husband sent thee here to ask for money." Then, as with a 
sign of her hand she indicated the presence of Henri 
Trevieres, he continued : " Henri is the son of my best 
friend, and it is I who have brought him up. There is no 
need for me to be particular before him, or to refrain from 
speaking about your home affairs." 

" Father, I entreat you !" 

" Thou mayest entreat as much as thou likest. I should 
like this worthy Henri to know how matters stand, and to 
let him know that this noble lord wants to run his English 
racers with my money. This shall be thy punishment. Yes, 
my clear boy, this fine gentleman sends my daughter here to 
ask me to lend, which means to give him, three hundred 
thousand francs ! What dost thou say to that, eh ?" 

"M. "Vacheron," replied Henri in a decided tone, "I do 
not desire to know what M. de Sartilly does, and therefore I 
will take my leave of you." 

" Here, stop a bit, thou shalt know, if it was only to pre- 
vent thee from counting on my son-in-law's guarantee ; for I 
declare to you that he shall not have a sou from me." 

"I have no intention of working for him, believe me," 
answered M. Trevieres coldly, li and when M. de Sartilly 
learns from M. de Saint Senier the name of the proposed 
engiueer, I am sure that he will beg him to make choice of 
another one, so that you see I am quite a disinterested 
party. I can only sincerely regret that I spoke of the 
matter at all, as it has caused annoyance to your daughter. 1 ' 
As he spoke, Henri Trevieres rose to his feet, and with a 
bow to Valentine, into which he endeavoured to throw an 
expression of all the regret he felt, he left the room without 
another word. Poor Valentine, who could not help feeling 
grateful to him for his tact, was left face to face with her 
father, whose temper had now entirely got the better of him, 
the more so that he felt he had been utterly in the wrong. 
" Aha, thou hast made me do a nice stroke of business," said 
he. " Here I have quarrelled with a lad that I loved like my 
own son — and all on account of a man that I hate." 

" And that I adore," replied Valentine, looking him 
steadily in the face. 

" Thou darest to say that to me ; has he then bewitched 
you, the wretch. He uses thee as a tool to get money out of 
me with ; thou art a mere slave, subservient to his will and 
pleasure ; he will not succeed in ruining thee, because I will 
take care of that, but he will end by beating thee. He will 
bring his mistresses to thy house. Look you, I am but an 
old man, but if I was as young as Henri Trevieres I would 
go and strike this fine gentleman, who tramples thee under 



A Stormy Interview 53 

his feet, in the face, and we would see then if he would dare 
to refuse to fight with me because I am not of noble birth." 

" Father," interrupted Valentine, " I am your daughter, 
and you have the right to say to me what you like, but I am 
also the wife of Gontran de Sartilly, and I will not listen to 
any insults which you may cast at him. Permit me, there- 
fore, to leave you." 

"Good, be off," retorted the exasperated old man. "He 
is no doubt waiting! for thee somewhere to pocket my 
money. Go to him and tell him from me that I would not 
give him a thousand franc note to save him from the 
galleys." 

Thoroughly disheartened, the Countess fled, and Vacheron 
made no effort to detain her. She put on her hat and her 
fur cloak, which she had left in the ante-room, and quitted 
her father's house without knowing whether she should ever 
enter it again. 

Her victoria was standing near the door, and she was 
about to get into it, when she saw Henri Trevieres standing 
on the pavement close by, and who was evidently waiting 
for her. Valentine trembled, and her first idea was to get 
away, so as to avoid an explanation which she dreaded ; but 
Trevieres' expression showed so plainly the deep and honour- 
able affection that he had for her, that she could not find it 
in her heart to refuse to listen to what he had to say to her. 

" Madame," began he in a tone and manner which at once 
re-assured her as to his object, " I only wish to say a few 
words to you. I have been the involuntary witness of a 
scene which must have caused you deep sorrow, and I much 
pain. But you are too excited by what has just passed for 
me to detain you to listen to my apologies. You know me 
too well to think that I am about to speak to you regarding 
the sentiments that you have inspired in my heart. Chance 
has made me acquainted with the fact that your marriage, 
which destroyed all my earthly chance of happiness, has not 
conduced to yours. I foresee for you a gloomy future. I 
have no consolation to offer you, but you may one day have 
need of a trusty friend ; let me then be that friend, if you 
will accept me as such." Then as Valentine hesitated to 
reply, he continued : " Whatever may happen, it matters not 
where or how, should you require a champion, summon me. 
I will fly to your side, and if I can serve you I shall find 
sufficient reward in so doing." 

"I accept your generous offer," returned the Countess, 
extending her hand. Trevieres pressed those slender fingers, 
which he would willingly have kissed, and hastened away. 
There had been no witness to this brief interview. The 



54 Fickle Heart 

coachman, who sat upright on the box, with the handle of his 
whip resting on his knee, after the fashion of a coachman in 
aristocratic employ, never turned his head. 

" Home," said the Countess, before she got into her car- 
riage, " go by the Bois de Boulogne, as far as the lakes, and 
return by the gate of La Muette." 

Madame de Sartilly had a reason for suggesting this route. 
Since her interview with her father she was not in such a 
hurry to see her husband, as she did not quite know how he 
would take the news of her failure. She might have known 
that M. Vacheron would have refused her, but she had 
buoyed herself up with hope. She had now to tell Gontran 
that she had not succeeded in the mission which she had so 
imprudently undertaken, and instead of being angry with 
the man who had forced it upon her, she was vexed with her- 
self for not having carried it out. She was seeking for some 
excuse, and she hoped to hit upon one before returning 
home and meeting Gontran, who was no doubt waiting for 
her. 

The ex-contractor was right. Valentine was the abject 
slave of the Count, and she would probably pay dearly for 
the honour of having married him . She therefore wanted 
time to prepare her justification, and she calculated on a 
drive to restore to her that peace of mind which she required 
to plead her cause before one who was likely to prove a 
biassed judge. 



CHAPTER VIII 

AX ARISTOCRATIC HUSBAND 

That day there appeared to be a break in the winter. The 
sun was shining in a cloudless sky, a pale February sun, 
which did not melt the snow, but which gilded the leafless 
summits of the trees. This was not the hour in which all 
Paris shows itself in the Bois. The male and female eques- 
trians, who ride in the morning from ten to eleven, had 
returned home, and the carriages which at that time of the 
year block up the roads from three until five, had riot yet 
arrived. The Allee des Poteaux was deserted, and only a few 
pedestrians and cabs were making the round of the lakes. 
Valentine therefore met with nothing that could disturb her 
reflections. Her thoughts were not pleasant ones, but she 



An Aristocratic Husband b5 

hoped that Gontran would forgive her failure in the effort 
that she had made in obedience to his wishes. The recollec- 
tion of his words and kindness to her the night before 
re-assured her. " No," said she to herself, "he would never 
have played such an ignoble part as to swear that he loved 
me as he had done at the commencement. All his passionate 
love and his promises were sincere. Love like that cannot 
be feigned. Besides, why should he deceive me ? To per- 
suade me to ask my father for money? No, that would be 
too vile a thing. No gentleman could descend so low." 

On arriving at the end of the first lake, the coachman had 
imagined that he was conforming to the wishes of the 
Countess by slackening his speed, and so the victoria with 
the horses at a walk moved slowly along the broad macada- 
mised road. The air was soft, and almost warm, and 
Valentine gazed listlessly at the occasional passers-by, when, 
suddenly, she saw two horsemen come out of one of the side 
rides. One she knew by sight, from having occasionally met 
him in society, but she did not recollect his name. The other 
was her husband, and as she did not wish to enter into the 
matter with him in such a place, she threw herself hastily 
back in the carriage in the hope that he would not see her. 
But Gontran had keen eyes. He saw his wife in a moment, 
and took leave of his companion, who trotted off in the direc- 
tion of Paris, then making a sign to the coachman to stop, he 
came straight up to the cai riage. He still looked as loving 
as ever, and Valentine's fears began to clear away. He came 
up to her with a smile on his lips, and forced his horse, which 
was almost a thoroughbred, and whose restiveness he con- 
trolled with the hand of a finished horseman, up to the side 
of the carriage. " What good fortune ! " exclaimed he gaily. 
" It was a happy inspiration on my part to have breakfasted 
at the Restaurant Madrid with that madcap Alfred de 
Mussidan, who has just left me. I did not expect for a 
moment to meet you here, and I was going home to wait for 
you, for I thought that the breakfast at your father's would 
be a long one." 

" It is just finished," murmured the Countess. 

" Just so, and I guess that all went off well and as 

you are now here, I propose a walk by the side of the lake, 
like true lovers." 

Valentine took care to offer no opposition. She felt that 
the conversation with her husband would not pass over 
without some outburst, but it was necessary to put an end to 
a state of things which was beginning to weigh heavily upon 
her. She got out of the carriage, and Gontran, calling a boy 
who was hanging about in quest of a job, confided his horse 



56 Fickle Heart 

to him. "Jean will wait for us here," said the Count. 
" Come, my love." 

He led her across a little grass plot into a narrow path 
that runs close to the lake, a path in which it is difficult for 
two to walk without pressing close to each other. " What 
a time for love," whispered the Count, drawing close to his 
wife. " Have you forgotten our wedding tour ; the Lake of 
Bourget, and those sweet evenings when we sat side by side 
on its banks ? Here it is not quite the same, for we lack 
mountain scenery in the Bois de Boulogne." 

" My heart is not changed," murmured Valentine. 

" Nor mine, I swear it to you." 

Valentine trembled ; it was long since Gontran had spoken 
to her so affectionately. He had only done so again on the 
night of their reconciliation, and she imagined that she saw 
before her a happy future. " It only depends on you, for us 
to spend an eternal honeymoon," continued the most loving 
of husbands. " It will be a perpetual Spring." 

A little more, and Valentine would have sprung into his 
aims ; as it was, she contented herself with pressing close to 
him, and they walked thus for some time in silence. 

She was too happy at finding him near her to revert to the 
unpleasant subject of the loan. She hoped or rather she 
endeavoured to hope, that Gontran had given up all thoughts 
of it. Perhaps he had renounced his idea of partnership 
with the Viscount de Saint Senier, whom he did not much 
like, and would easily console himself for his father-in-law's 
refusal. Then she thought whether she ought to tell him of 
this refusal, and reproached herself with having hidden it 
from him so long. It seemed to her almost indelicate to 
remain silent at this happy moment, when he was lavishing 
caresses on her, which she feared she did not deserve. " I 
saw my father," began she, timidly. 

"And he received you with open arms, I am sure," 
interrupted Gontran. " He loves you so fondly that I can 
forgive him all his little peculiarites. You told him, I sup- 
pose, the great news of our reconciliation. '' 

" Yes, dearest, and he was overwhelmed with joy, 
but " 

" It was the best way to put him in a good temper. You 
are an ambassadress of the first class. I suppose you had 
not to ask him twice ? " 

Valentine became more and more embarrassed, and hesitated 
to reply. 

" What is the matter V asked the Count, with a frown. 
" Did the old fellow make any objection ? " 

" He refused point blank," murmured the young woman. 



Ait, Aristocrat if Husband 57 

" Ah ! " exclaimed Sartilly, changing his tone and manner, 
" then you must have gone the wrong way to work." 

" I did my best, but he said ' No ' at once, and when he heard 
that the money was destined to start a racing stable with, he 
fell into a furious passion." 

" What need was there to tell him anything of the kind 1 
You should have said that it was a debt of honour, or a bill 
that must be taken up." 

" It was not I that spoke of your project of running horses. 
There was one of his friends " 

" And you spoke of my necessities before him ! " exclaimed 
the Count. " You unhappy wretch, but how like you that 
was. The disposition of the enriched mason breaks out in 
you, and your marriage with me has not cleansed you from 
the mire of the plebeian. The idea of you letting my name 
down like that ! " 

Gout ran was pallid with fury. He seized his wife by the 
arm, and shook her violently. The place where they were 
standing was very lonely, and the weeping willows hid the 
opposite bank. There was not a boat on the lake, for they 
are seldom used during the winter, and the carriage road was 
some distance off. 

The Count glared like a tiger on his wife. The bank was 
very steep ; one thrust of his arm would have hurled his 
wife into the lake, and no one would have witnessed the 
deed. She had no strength left to call for help. She was 
terrified, but did not think of asking for mercy. What 
mattered it now whether she died or not, when her husband 
had just torn away the last veil that hid the truth from her. 
She would have preferred another style of death, but she 
was resigned to her fate ; as well sleep her last sleep in the 
depths of the lake, as live at the mercy of a villain whom 
she still loved. 

He did not push his cruelty so far as to hurl her into the 
water. In his passion, the desire to do so had flashed across 
his brain, but an instant's reflection showed him that he could 
do better with his victim than drown her. 

" Thank heaven that you are a woman." said he, pushiug 
her violently from him, " and remember that from this 
moment all is over between us. I have forgiven you once, 
and it was for the last time. And now we shall live once 
more, as we have lived for more than a year, and no one is to 
know what has taken place between us, not even your father, 
do you understand '] I have nothing to do with the millions 
of that upstart of a father of yours, and I once more take 
my liberty, but I do not give you yours. You will go with 
me into society when I think lit, and you will only receive 



58 Fickle Heart 

such visitors as I choose. Should you receive any man by 
the window, it will cost you dear, so you had better keep it 
closed. You will receive no more of M. Vacheron's friends. 
You bear my name, and you shall not soil it by mixing with 
such people. I shall weed out my establishment from to-day. 
I shall dismiss your maid, and replace her with one of my 
own choosing. As for your money matters, I shall make no 
change. A certain sum will, as heretofore, be given to you 
for your dress and the housekeeping expenses. You need 
trouble about nothing more. I shall use your fortune as I 
please, and shall render an account of it to no one. Do you 
understand ? " 

"Yes," answered Valentine, who did not for a moment 
think of disputing the conditions that her unworthy husband 
was imposing on her. 

" Then all that you have to do is to obey me ; I shall 
conduct you to your carriage, and then leave you, most likely 
for a long time. Come along," he added, pointing to the 
path by which they had come. She moved on without 
uttering a word, and he followed her. " Oh ! by the way," 
continued he, as they arrived in sight of the victoria, which 
was drawn up by the side of the road, " I forgot to tell you 
that you were not to keep your companion any longer." 

" Diana 1 " murmured the Countess. 

" Yes, Diana de Ganges, that pensioner of yours that you 
took up, I do not know why, and who never gives you any- 
thing but bad advice. You will send her off as soon as 
possible." 

" This order is useless for she has disappeared." 

" What do you mean 1 " 

" I went to her room this morning, she was not there. I 
found everything upset, and her bed covered with blood." 

Gontran was not surprised at this ; he had felt sure that 
she had sheltered the wounded man, and he remembered that 
she had told him that she would leave the house the next day. 
He thought to himself " I shall find her again," and then 
continued aloud, " Oh ! so she has gone, all the better ! " 

" Perhaps she has been murdered." 

" Murdered, pooh, pooh, those sort of girls do not let 
themselves be murdered. She has run off with some lover. 
You will soon see her lolling in her carriage like the rest of 
them. But remember, I forbid you ever to speak to her 
again, or ever to recognise her, even if she should presume 
to bow to you." The scoundrel thought to himself " I shall 
find her again, and then she shall pay for her insolence, when 
she has joined the votaries of Venus, she will not be so 
haughty towards me." 



In Search of a Lover 59 

He had chosen his plan, and settled on the course that 
he would pursue, now that M. Vacheron's refusal had placed 
him in a fresh position, and poor Valentine had only just 
begun to experience all the humiliations that were reserved 
for her. " I have nothing further to say to you," continued 
lie, " and henaeforth we shall not see each other often. But 
remember that I shall keep an eye on you, and shall know 
all you do ; therefore set a watch on your acts, yes, and on 
your very words, if you want to live at peace with me." 

The victoria was in waiting. Gontran politely handed his 
wife in, and after having pressed her unwilling hand so that 
the coachman might believe that concord and harmony 
reigned between them, he sprang on his horse and set off for 
Paris at a hand gallop. 



CHAPTEE IX 

IN SEARCH OP A L0VE1: 

" Home, by the shortest way," had been the order given by the 
Countess before getting into her carriage, and the coachman 
drove off at once. She felt that she had no longer the courage 
to struggle against her inexorable destiny. The blow which 
she had just received had been a terrible one, the more so, 
because it fell on her at the very moment when she thought 
that she had again won Gontran's alfection. She had now no 
hope left in the world. Repulsed by her father, cursed and 
threatened by her husband, all she could pray for now was 
that death might speedily end her sufferings. She absolutely 
regretted that the Count had not cast her into the lake. As 
soon as she arrived at home, she hastened to seek refuge in 
her own room, where she might weep undisturbed, but she 
found her maid waiting for her there. After misfortunes 
came annoyances. Lisa was too much attached to her, and 
in obedience to M. de Sartilly's ideas it was necessary to 
dismiss her. Other women in Valentine's position would 
have resisted the tyrannical will of husbands, who desired 
that all should yield before their caprices, and had she but 
had a little more energy she would at once have quitted the 
house in which she was to be practically a prisoner, for 
irritated as her father might have been with her, he would 
certainly have given her an asylum. But she had resigned 
herself to obey Gontran's orders, for she thought that per- 



60 Fickle Heart 

haps perfect submission might touch his heart. For the 
moment she hardly knew how to tell Lisa that she could no 
longer retain her in her service, but the experienced waiting- 
maid relieved her from her embarrassment. 

" Madame is no doubt acquainted with the fact that the 
Count has discharged me?" asked she. • 

"The Count !" repeated Valentine ; "what, have you seen 
him 1 " 

" He has just left here, madame ; he came up directly he 
dismounted ; he did not remain long, only to tell me that I 
was to leave at once." 

" It is not I who am discharging you," said the Countess 
quickly. 

" Oh, no ! I know that very well ; and I know why the Count 
is doing so, but I beg that madame will not be uneasy with 
regard to me. I shall certainly leave here to-day, but I 
shall be entirely at madame's orders, for I shall not go 
into service again at present. I have saved some money, 
thanks to madame's kindness, and I have no need to go 
out again. If madame will permit me, I shall take a little 
lodging in a house opposite to the gate leading into the 
Avenue d'Eylau ; and any time that I can be of service to 
madame, never mind in what way, she has but to summon 
me." 

" Thanks, thanks," answered Valentine, deeply touched at 
this faithful girl's devotion. 

" Then madame accepts my offer. I do not know who will 
take my place, but I can only warn madame to distrust 
Francis. He is on the Count's side, and consequently against 
us. Fortunately, I have a hold on him, for he is courting me, 
so that I shall be able to prevent him doing much harm, and 
if there is any plot against madame, I shall know of it through 
him. He has already begun talking this morning." 

" About what ? " 

" About Mile, de Ganges ; he pretends that someone was 
in her room last night, and as no one has seen her since 
yesterday " 

" Then she has not made her appearance ? " 

" No, madame, her room is locked, and Rose, her maid, does 
not know what to think." 

At this instant a footman entered with a silver salver on 
which was a letter, the Countess took it, saying in a low voice, 
" It is from her." 

Before breaking the seal, she sent Lisa out of the room, 
who had heard her exclamation, but who like a well-trained 
servant at once followed the footman. It was not without 
a feeling of the deepest emotion that Mme. de Sartilly 



In Search of a Lover 61 

opened the letter from Mile, de Ganges. The exciting events 
of the morning had caused her momentarily to forget the 
strange disappearance of her companion, but now she felt 
that this disappearance had something to do with the events 
which so strangely affected her, and she asked herself if 
Diana whom she had so much loved, was now a friend or an 
enemy. The letter would clear up the matter. 

" My dear Valentine," wrote Mile, de Ganges — " You 
will be vexed with me for having left without seeing you, 
and heaven only knows what you must think of me. You 
will understand later on that it was necessary for me to act 
as I did. I do not ask you to approve of my conduct. Our 
feelings are not the same, and my position has nothing in 
common with yours. I owe no account of my actions to any- 
one, except perhaps to you, and to-day I am not disposed 
to fill four pages in justifying myself. Be content then to 
learn that I have decided to hoist the flag of independence. 
I have gone with all due forethought into the camp of the 
irregular division, and I think that I shall have no difficulty 
in holding my own there. But it is not to declare my 
principles to you that I am writing. Events occurred last 
night in your house, in which by chance I was mixed up, and 
which might serve your husband as a pretext to bring a 
serious accusation against you ; but I have the complete 
proof of your innocence, and in addition I know your 
husband thoroughly. He has no heart, he is only possessed 
by lust and pride of birth. You love him, that is your 
misfortune. My duty is to tell you that I think him capable 
of anything, even of making away with you, and I beg you 
for pity's sake to let me know if he threatens your life. 
Then summon me. It is most easy to do so. Send a telegram 
to Mile. Cezambre, to the office in the Place de la Madeleine, 
in two hours it will reach me ; then I will hasten and save 
you." 

" She also accuses Gontran,'' murmured Valentine greatly 
affected. 

Valentine was indeed deeply grieved to learn that Diana 
thought so badly of Gontran de Sartilly, but she was com- 
pelled to allow that her late companion was right, and yet 
she did not even know the whole infamy of her husband who 
half an hour before their reconciliation had offered his heart 
and fortune to Diana. 

Mile, de Ganges had not thought it right to recount in her 
letter the odious scene that had taken place, but Valentine 
felt that she would not have accused Gontran without strong 
and convincing evidence ; unless indeed the warning, accom- 



62 Fickle Heart 

panied by proffers of assistance concealed some snare. This 
hideous idea floated through the brain of the Countess, and 
yet she was not of a distrustful disposition by nature, but 
embittered by misfortune, she began to suspect everybody. 
She did not quite understand the declaration of independence 
made by Mile, de Ganges, a declaration bounded by certain 
ill-defined limits ; and the more that she reflected on this 
ambiguous letter, the more she felt persuaded that Diana was 
lost and that she must renounce ever seeing her again. 

She had therefore now lost the friend from whom she had 
no secrets from her earliest childhood. The tears started to 
her eyes, and she was about to give way to her grief, when 
Lisa re-appeared without having been summoned. 

" Madame, will pardon me," said she in a low tone, " but 
the Viscountess of Saint Senier is here. I told her that you 
were not well, but she persists in seeing you, and I think " 
added the maid lowering her voice still more, " that she has 
come about the affair of last night." 

At first Valentine did not understand her, then she 
remembered that the young man who had intruded on her, 
had got into the garden by scaling the fence on the side of 
the Rue Villejust, and the idea struck her that perhaps he 
came from Saint Senier's house. 

Mme. de Sartilly often met the Viscountess in society, but 
they did not care for each other, and were not on visiting 
terms. Had Valentine yielded to her first impressions she 
would have refused to receive her neighbour especially at 
such a moment, but then she imagined that this woman was 
perhaps going to give her some inkling of the commencement 
of this strange drama, and so she consented to see her ; 
promising herself that she would net with the greatest 
reserve during this interview on so delicate a subject. Mme. 
de Saint Senier must have been very handsome at twenty- 
rive, but she was now thirty-six, and nothing remained to 
her of her pristine beauty but a majestic figure, and 
perfectly regular features. She had grown stout and her 
complexion had become too ruddy. By gaslight she might 
still please very young men, and they certainly pleased her, 
for her heart was as young as ever. She was of very good 
birth, and her manners had all that freedom which used to be 
the distinguishing mark of the ladies of the court of Louis 
XV. She entered the room without the slightest embarrass- 
ment, held out her hand to Mme. de Sartilly who did not dare 
to refuse it, and sat down in front of her with wonderful self- 
possession. 

" You will excuse me, dear Madame, I am sure," said she, 
as soon as Lisa had left the room, " if I almost forced my way 



In Search of a Lover 63 

in, but you can render me a great service. We are not 
intimately acquainted, but I thought that you would do so, 
for you must be, I am sure, as kind as you are beautiful." 

This comment cloaked as it was with a compliment did 
not cause Valentine to unbind her brows, and she asked 
coldly, " In what way can I be of service to you, Madame ? " 

" Oh, you know well enough. You were not asleep at 
three o'clock in the morning, for you had only just come 
home from a dance, when some one was fired at in your 
garden." 

" I did hear some shots," replied Mme. de Sartilly, seeking 
to restrain the emotion that was gaining the upper hand in 
despite of all her efforts to remain calm. 

" And you took no further notice 1 " 

" I thought that some burglar had been fired at." 

" But you did not see him then 1 " 

" No," answered Valentine with a violent effort. 

'' Your husband saw him however, for he was pursuing 
him." 

"That is true." 

" You know then if he caught him ? " 

"No, the man escaped." 

" What became of him ? " 

" I do not know. May I ask why you put all these 
questions ? " 

" I might invent some story to satisfy you, but Iprefer being 
frank. That man was no robber. He had been surprised in 
my house. Compelled to fly at once, he took refuge in the 
garden of your house — and I am sure that he never left it." 

The cool effrontery of this avowal made Mme. de Sartilly 
colour up to the roots of her hair, as she answered in tones of 
indignation, " And do you dare ask me what has become of 
him ? " 

'' Would you rather that I went and asked the Count 1 " 

" I should not prevent your doing so." 

" Take care, it is your interest to prevent this story from 
spreading. Your reputation might be jeopardised. Mine 
has nothing to fear, besides I am not afraid of my husband 
or of anyone else in the world. To prove this to you, I will 
tell you everything. This young man who arrived in Paris 
some eight days ago is a Creole from the Island of Mauritius 
where I was born, and he was recommended to me by one of 
my relations there. I received him yesterday for the first 
time. I kept him to dinner and he stayed rather late 
with me, for I do just as I like, and have no fear of com- 
promising myself. He had just left me when he was 
attacked in the street ; at the sound of the pistol shots, I 



64 Fickle Heart 

rang up my servants, they saw him run into your garden, 
and disappear behind the left wing of your house. I 
ordered them to keep silence in the matter, and this morning 
I called at the address that my young compatriot had given 
me, but he had not been home ; so that you see he cannot 
have left this house." 

The Viscountess Saint Senier was evidently hiding a portion 
of the truth. That the Creole had passed the night at her 
house was not for a moment doubtful, but she lied in saying 
that she had sent out her servants to help him. Valentine 
had seen the man who had fired the shots hidden in the shade 
of the Viscount de Saint Senier's house. 

" Where did he remain then " asked she, " not in my room, 
I suppose ? " 

" You do not live alone here, there is your companion." 

This time Mine, de Saint Senier had hit the bull's-eye, 
and a ray of light burst upon Valentine. Thoroughly up- 
set by the events of the night, she had made no effort to join 
all the threads together, and had never thought that the 
voung man who had leapt from her window might have 
sought shelter with Diana. But now all was explained. 
The blood that she had seen upon the bed must have been 
that which flowed from the wounded man, and Diana must 
have fled with him. 

" I shall go and ask that young lady for news of George," 
continued the audacious Viscountess. " I forgot to tell you 
that his name was George " 

" Mile, de Gauges has left the house," interrupted Mme. de 
Sartilly, who had no desire to learn the name of her 
neighbour's handsome friend. 

"When?" 

" This morning, Madame." 

" But she will come back I " 

" I think not." 

"Very good. I understand it now, the jade has carried 
him off ; but I must tell you that your husband should know 
this, since he was chasing George and " 

" Have the goodness not to occupy yourself with my 
husband," said Valentine exasperated by the violent speech 
of her visitor. " I do not trouble myself about yours." 

" M. de Saint Senier, he certainly is not worth the trouble, 
why I hardly know whether he exists or not," answered the 
Countess shrugging her shoulders. 

"It seems to me, however that last night " 

" You suppose that he surprised me with George, ah 
poor fellow, he is incapable of committing such an act of 
discourtesy. I beg you to understand that he never enters 



In Search of a Lover 65 

my apartments without my leave. He spent nearly all 
night at the club according to his usual custom." 

•' That he did not know then ? " 

" His valet probably told him this morning that there 
were some pistol shots fired in the Eue Villejust ; but I do 
not suppose that he took much interest in the story, for he 
has not thought it worth his while to mention it to me. 
Besides I have not seen him to-day, for he is taken up with 
a great project with which no doubt you are acquainted, 
he is going into partnership with M. de Sartilly to run " 

Valentine knew it only too well, for had not this project 
been the cause of her rupture both with her father and 
Gontran, but she took care not to divulge her sorrows to her 
unworthy neighbour. 

Then this woman, who almost made a boast of her infamy, 
got up, and said with an easy air, " Then my dear Madame, 
nothing remains but for me to take leave of you. I now 
know all that I wished to know, and all that I have to do, 
is to rescue this poor young man from the seductions of a 
hussy who is only seeking to make something out of him, 
for he is very wealthy. I suppose she did not leave you her 
address when she went off, but I will make it my business 
to find it out." 

She offered her hand to Madame de Sartilly, who 
however declined to take it, so disgusted was she at her 
cynical disclosures, and her visitor left the room without 
her taking a step to escort her to the door. 

Left alone Valentine threw herself into a chair, and 
began to reflect upon the proceedings of Madame de Saint 
Senier. This aristocratic lady must have indeed been lost 
to all sense of modesty to come to her in search of her lover, 
but though her speech had at times been a little incoherent 
there we^re some doubtful passages in it. Thus she lied 
when she said that she had voluntarily sent away the lover 
who had remained with her until three o'clock in the 
morning. She had no doubt been surprised with her lover, 
but if it was not by M. Saint Senier, who could it have 
been by? Valentine asked herself this question over and 
over again, but was unable to arrive at the truth. 



CHAPTEE X 

A CAPITALIST IN LIVERY 

The Count de Sartilly had reached home before his -wife 
did, but he had only remained there for the time necessary 
to change his dress, and he had given Lisa notice to leave 
because he happened to meet her on the staircase as he was 
going to his dressing-room, and because he wished to lose no 
time in inaugurating the line of authority which he intended 
to adopt, not only with the Countess but also with his 
servants. He did not wish to see his wife again that day, 
and he was anxious to meet his neighbour the Viscount de 
Saint Senier, for he had by no means given up the idea 
of entering into the famous partnership with him, although 
his father-in-law had refused to advance the necessary 
funds. M. de Sartilly was not in possession of the three 
hundred thousand francs at the moment, but he had made 
up his mind to procure them at any cost. 

M. de Saint Senier was not at home, and Gontran did not 
care to meet the Countess, who for her part would have 
received him with great pleasure for she admired him much, 
and would willingly have entered upon a fresh intrigue. 
Contrail might certainly have asked her whether her 
husband had tired the pistol shots, but then he cared very 
little for information on this point. 

Both Saint Senier and he, were members of the same club, 
and the former passed a great portion of his time there, 
partly to forget the conduct of his wife, but chiefly to bet and 
gamble, for this gentleman had thrown himself energetically 
into all the varied phases of sporting life. He hardly ever 
spoke of anything else, and he had certainly heard that 
he never thought on any other subject. The Count de 
Sartilly therefore knew where to meet him, but in the 
middle of the day clubs are nearly deserted, and so to fill up 
his spare time he lounged into TattersalPs, where he found 
plenty of congenial society, horse-dealers, trainers, and 
frequenters of the racecourse. He learned that in the 
racing world the rumour had already spread that he was 
going to run horses of his own in the coming season. Saint 
Senier was repeating it everywhere, and he had himself 



A Capitalist in Livery 67 

announced that he had signed the deed of partnership, 
which was pretty near the truth as the document had to be 
completed the next day. 

Gontran could not draw back from this arrangement, 
without breaking his word, or what was worse in his eyes, of 
appearing to be in embarrassed circumstances. He did not 
therefore contradict the persons who seemed to be well in- 
formed on the subject, and even permitted himself to be 
congratulated on his future probable successes, and listened 
to advice regarding the purchase of horses for his new 
stables. He never let his thoughts dwell for a moment upon 
Valentine who was weeping in solitude, or if he did think of 
her for a moment, it was to consider how he could make ute 
of her weakness, and to swear that he would be inflexible 
towards her. After along visit, he walked down the Champs 
Elysdes, and entered the club at four o'clock. It was not 
perhaps as aristocratic a one as many others in Paris, but it 
was full of life, and the play was very high, and for this 
reason Sartilly and Saint Senier who were members both of 
the Union and the Jockey club, preferred it to these where the 
society was better, and the stakes less ruinous. Gontran 
passed through several rooms filled with quiet whist parties, 
and made his way to the billiard room, where he hoped to find 
Saint Senier who was a very skilful player, though he much 
preferred a game at baccarat. There was a crowd round the 
table where two players of almost equal skill were contending. 
One of the players was a retired colonel well known to all 
the frequenters of the club for his detestable temper, the 
other was Saint Senier who was making a splendid break, 
and canonning at every stroke amidst the suppressed applause 
of the spectators, and much to the disgust of his adversary. 

M. de Saint Senier was ten years older than his friend 
Gontran, and in appearance he did not resemble him at all, 
for he was tall, fat, and clumsUy built, with hair turning 
grey, and he had all the air of air English farmer, gentleman 
Jarmer, as they say on the other side of the channel. He 
aIso~imitated their maimers, and to _complete the resemblance 
had all his ~c!othes made in London. '/'There was however 
abbutliim thaFunmiStakable air wEich is the result of mixing 
in aristocratic society, and above all he possessed an immense 
stock of coolness and self-command which is generally found 
in possessors of large fortunes. He had plenty of toadies in 
the club, rich people always have, but these even laughed 
openly at his conjugal mishaps, which were well known, 
and some even accused him of shutting his eyes to them, 
from mercenary motives, as his wife had even a larger fortune 
than he had. One of his worse points was his avarice, he 



68 Fickle Heart 

was suspected of putting his money to very bad uses, and he 
was a pitiless creditor. He never granted the slightest time 
for payment, and the unfortunate player who did not settle 
his card debts within forty-eight hours was certain to find 
his name posted up in the club-room, at the request of this 
terrible Viscount. But why people hated him most was be- 
cause of his luck, for he seemed never to lose. To-day he 
was in the full swing of it, the most risky strokes always 
scored, whilst the colonel missed the easiest shots. Sartilly 
did not think it advisable to interrupt his exploits, and so 
waited until the end of the game, -which was concluded by 
Saint Senier making a cannon off all four cushions. The 
unlucky colonel asked for his revenge, but the Viscount who 
had recognised Sartilly excused himself, and gaily pocketing 
the ten louis for which they had been playing, left the old 
warrior to grumble at his ease. Taking Gontran's arm, 
he led him into a corner of the room, and said to him 
bluntly : 

" My dear fellow, I am delighted to see you to-day, for we 
sign the agreement to-morrow. The deed is ready, and my 
notary will wait for us at two o'clock. You have got the 
money, I presume ? " 

" Not yet," answered Sartilly. 

" The deuce ! why I have announced publicly that you 
would pay it to-morrow to our joint accounts in the Credit 
Lyonnais, my own money is already there, and before we 
conclude yours must be paid in ; however, you still have 
the time to get it." 

"The time certainly, but no possibility of doing so." 

" How is that ? Why, yesterday you told me that you were 
sure of getting it to-day." 

" I hoped to have been able to have done so." 

'' And you have not been able. Allow me to observe, 
that I had relied on your promise, and that you have placed 
me in a most embarrassing position. I have already pur- 
chased three brood mares, as you know, I have given orders 
for the buildings down there,. I have rented grazing land, 
and I have engaged an engineer for the artesian wells. If 
therefore it suits you to break off from our arrangements, I 
trust that you will not leave all these preliminary expenses 
on my shoulders." 

" Certainly not, nor do I give up the project. Only — 
I am not ready." 

" In other words you cannot lay your hands on three 
hundred thousand francs, and that is a thing that I can 
hardly believe, for my dear fellow your wife brought you 
something like six millions." 



A Capitalist in Livery 69 

"Not a sou of which I can touch. When I married, it 
was all settled on herself." 

"A grave fault on your part, an inexcusable error, for 
Mile. Vacheron would have accepted any conditions that 
you might have imposed on her." 

"She might perhaps, but it was a different matter with 
her father, I did my best, but he turned a deaf ear to all my 
propositions." 

" And as you were precious hard up, you married her all the 
same. Don't think for a moment that I blame you for that. 
It has always been the same with the nobility. Before the 
'' revolution, when a ruined gentleman married the daughter 
of a wealthy citizen, people said he had manured his lands. 
But hang it when one marries beneath one, something 
ought to be made out of it, and after all you live at the rate 
of a hundred thousand crowns a year, and I can't see how you 
can be pressed for money ; besides in your position it is the 
deuce and all if you can't find three hundred thousand 
francs." 

" I had expected to find them, otherwise I should not have 
entered into arrangements with you." 

" Find them ! And where pray 1 " 

" In my father-in-law's strong box, but he has refused to 
advance them to me.'' 

" If your wife had asked for them, he would have given 
them to her." 

" She did ask, but she got nothing out of the old skinflint." 

" That is serious. However, perhaps there is another way, 
let us look for it. Between ourselves, they say that your 
wife adores you, that is more than mine does me. If she 
would guarantee the debt, there are plenty of persons in 
Paris who would lend you the three hundred thousand 
francs." 

" She might consent perhaps, but the law steps in, my 
wife's signature according to the deed of settlement, is 
valueless." 

" In a court certainly, but do you think that M. Vacheron 
would permit his daughter's signature to be dishonoured V 

" I don't know I am sure." 

" But I am sure that he would not. You don't know self- 
made men. These purse-proud upstarts place great value 
on the respectability of their name, as we do now, and 
much more than we did formerly. M. Vacheron would not 
give you a thousand francs to satisfy one of your whims, but 
he would spend his entire fortune to 'prevent his daughter 
making her appearance before a law court." 

" If I could only believe that." 



70 Fickle Heart 

" At any rate you might try." 

" I certainly would if I knew a capitalist who was disposed 
to make the advance under such conditions." 

" If I were not the Viscount de Saint Senier, I would do it 
myself, but as you must understand I cannot carry on such 
business. Your worthy father-in-law would take me for a 
money-lender. Others however, have not the same scruples." 

" Introduce me to one." 

" Why not?" replied the Viscount, after having gone through 
the form of appearing to reflect. " But have you thoroughly 
made up your mind. I ought to warn you that it will cost 
you a lot." 

" I don't care what percentage I pay," returned Sartilly 
carelessly ." 

"The more so," said Saint Senier, "that we are bound to 
make money next racing season, and before the end of June 
you can pay him off. I am certain that with Drawn Sword 
we shall gain the Grand Prix de Paris, and I am only wait- 
ing for your payment to buy him, for he is one of the best 
racing cracks I know of. By backing him we ought to 
clear a million." 

" And I will back him heavily you may be sure of that. 
But whilst I am about it I must have the money for four 
months." 

" That will not be more difficult than borrowing the money 
for ninety days, for you can't go to a bank for the loan, and 
the capitalists who do this sort of business look less to the 
duration of the loan than to the solvency of the borrower." 

'• Ah, there you touch the weak spot. All the money- 
lenders in Paris know that 1 can only draw the dividends of 
the investments, and that large as they are, they will not 
permit me to pay at one blow three hundred thousand francs 
on a given date." 

"You may call it three hundred and fifty thousand at 
once, for the lender would not do it for less." 

" You know of one then ? " asked Sartilly, quickly. 

"Yes," replied his friend promptly. "You must under- 
stand that I have not had recourse to him myself, for I 
never put myself in the position of having to go to these 
gentlemen for assistance. But the man I have in view has 
at his disposal considerable sums of money, and I know that 
he likes to get a heavy return for them, and cares nothing 
about the usury laws." 

" Can you introduce me to him 1 " 

"Certainly, and without leaving the club, he is one of the 
waiters in the card-room." 

" A waiter in the card-room ! You are joking with me. 



A Capitalist in Livery 71 

If it was a question of a thousand francs or so, it might be 
different, but " 

" My dear fellow, Augustus is not what a vain people sup- 
pose him to be, in other words petty gamesters do not know 
his worth." 

" The evening before last he refused to lend three thou- 
sand francs to the Baron de Sigolene." 

" Because the Baron is completely cleaned out. Augustus 
is always well posted, and he would not lend him a hundred 
francs, but to a man like you " 

" If he is so well posted up, he must know my exact 
position." 

" There is no doubt about that, dear boy ; but he generally 
consults me, and goes a great deal by my opinion ; only he 
would not advance you a hundred thousand crowns on your 
own signature." 

" Do you intend to offer him yours as a guarantee 1 " 

" No, and I will tell you the reason ; he will imagine that 
I am putting you forward to conceal my own impecuniosity, 
and will believe that I am borrowing through you, and 
would therefore have doubts as to the value of my 
signature, and would decline the honour of becoming your 
creditor." 

" Then I do not see what I am to do ; besides I can hardly 
believe that he has so much money at his command." 

" You seem to have forgotten that for twenty years he has 
been playing this little game, and that in the whole world 
there is not a better one. The player who borrows fifty louis 
during the evening returns it the next day with a bonus of 
one louis ; two per cent, per day is equivalent to seven hun- 
dred per cent, per annum." 

" But he must have losses ? " 

" Hardly ever ; Augustus knows his clients too well, re- 
cruited as they are from the gambling world of Paris, and 
he has done so well that at the present moment he possesses, 
let me whisper it, three millions of francs. He has some 
thoughts of retiring after having made his fortune like an 
honest tradesman, and to obtain for himself a rest, a lucra- 
tive one, of course ; he is looking out for the managership of 
a club, or the superintendenceship of a casino in some place 
where people go to take the waters." 

"Ah, is it so? then all that remains is to know what 
security he will require." 

" Why, that of your wife, of course." 

" It is worth nothing, as I have already told you." 

" Pardon me ; Augustus will not ask you to make Mme. 
de Sartilly accept a bill drawn by you. She could not meet 



72 Fickle Heart 

it, for she has by her settlement no power to deal with her 
capital." 

"Well, what is to be done then 1" 

" Nothing however prevents her from drawing on her 
father a bill that will become due, let me say, on the 15th of 
June. You will endorse it, and I will lay my life that M. 
Vacheron will honour it." 

" I have my doubts ; besides when they present it to him 
for acceptance he will refuse to do so." 

" That is very likely, and therefore he will not be asked 
to do so until the day on which it falls due ; then when he 
sees his daughter threatened with immediate law jjroceedings, 
he will recoil before the scandal which a case in court about 
a bill always produces, and he will pay up, whilst you and 
she will get off with the scolding that he will inflict upon 
you, for which I do not think you will care much." 

" You are certain that this Augustus will be contented 
with the signatures of my wife and myself ? " 

" Certainly, for I will advise him to ask you for nothing 
more, therefore, my dear de Sartilly, it depends upon you 
whether you will put me in a cruelly embarrassing position, 
and leave on my shoulders the whole expense of an affair in 
which I should not have embarked, had I not fully counted 
upon your co-operation." 

" If it only depended on me — — " 

" And on whom does it depend ? — on your wife, why she 
will do as you wish." 

" You deceive yourself." 

" What, after having agreed, all for the sake of pleasing 
you, to go and ask for the money from M. Vacheron 1 " 

" He received her very badly ; besides this morning I was 
on good terms with her, whereas now ■ " 

" Good, I can guess ; you treated her harshly, and re- 
proached her severely for not having succeeded ; and now 
she is in a temper with you. That will pass off, if you take 
the proper line, and with reference to that will you permit 
me to give you a piece of advice ? " 

" Well, let us hear it," said Gontran sulkily. 

" Well, then, my dear fellow, with women as also with 
children and horses, you must always retain a certain 
amount of firmness, and never give way to any impulse of 
passion. Do not be too affectionate, they will take advan- 
tage of it ; nor too harsh, for they will kick against it ; 
they will lash out, and end by gaining the upper hand. The 
way to act is to establish your ascendancy from the first 
and once and for all to assume the mastery. Let them oc- 
casionally have their heads, when it suits you to do so. In 



.-1 Capitalist la Livery 73 

this manner it will not take three months to break in the 
most restive young wife." 

" You applied this system of training, I suppose, to Mme. 
de Saint Senier ? " asked Gontran ironically. 

"Oh, my own case is quite different. I merely made a 
business affair of my marriage. I was nearly as well off as 
my wife. I did not care much for her, and she did not care 
a rap for me, and so we at once entered into an arrangement 
to live as we have lived for the last fifteen years, each going 
our own way. She does not interfere with my liberty, and 
I give her hers freely. I spend as much money as I want, 
and she receives whom she likes. So that there is never a 
shadow of a difference between us ; that of course is the best 
way." 

" But sometimes it must prove inconvenient for you ? " 
said Gontran, with a sneer. 

" You mean, that my wife deceives me, well, I know no- 
thing of it, and do not wish to. It is quite enough for me 
that she does not openly compromise herself, and I am per- 
fectly satisfied. She comes of a good family ; her ancestor 
the Marquis de Salazie was Governor-general of the Isle of 
France under Louis XVI., so that if she does occasionally 
kick over the traces, it is only natural and does not hurt 
her." 

" Idiot," thought Gontran, who remembered the incident 
of the previous evening. 

"Therefore," continued the cynical Viscount, "I have no 
need to trouble myself about her conduct ; indeed I think 
much more about our sta.bles. Why, just fancy, this morn- 
ing while I was at breakfast, my valet permitted himself to 
report some strange scenes which had taken place at extraor- 
dinary hours in my house, but I soon shut him up in a 
manner that will prevent him opening his mouth on 
such topics any more. But let us return to the former 
matter. You are in a better position with your wife than I 
am with mine. Your estrangement will not last long, and it 
will be easy for you to put an end to it. It is one of those 
occasions in which you must give her her head a little, as I 
said before, and there must be no delay. Do as I tell you, 
your share must be paid down to-morrow morning. There 
is our man, he is looking for one of his debtors, I can see it 
in his face. Shall I call him 1 " 

Gontran hesitated for a moment, he asked no better than 
to borrow the money he required even from a waiter, only 
he had but faint hopes of persuading Valentine to employ 
the means that Saint Senier proposed to get the money from 
her father. 



74 Fickle Heart 

" If the man is not disposed to find me the money," said 
he, after a moment's silence, " it is useless for me to have 
anything to say to him. Will you, therefore, who know 
him, have the goodness to sound him first ?" 

" Certainly," answered the Viscount, and made a sign to the 
liveried capitalist to wait for him at the other side of the 
room. Augustus was a strapping fellow of the true foot- 
man cut. He had large red whiskers, and a sly expression 
which did not betoken a good disposition. Gontran saw 
him come up cringingly to Saint Senier, who seemed to drop 
all his dignity and to be whispering with him as if he was 
his equal. 

" This is strange," thought Sartilly. " Saint Senier is 
behaving just as if Augustus was his partner." The thought 
only flashed across Gontran's imagination for an instant, and 
indeed it appeared most unlikely that the rich and noble 
Viscount Saint Senier should be in league with a card-room 
waiter to rob unlucky gamesters. 

The conversation lasted but a few minutes, and then the 
Viscount with a smile on his face came up to his friend fol- 
lowed by Augustus, and said, " It is done." 

" Then," asked Sartilly, fixing his eyes steadily on the 
man, "you are prepared to advance me this sum of money 1 " 

" Upon the conditions which your lordship already knows," 
answered Augustus. " A bill for three hundred and fifty 
thousand francs due the 15th of June, drawn on M. Peter 
Vacheron, signed by the Countess of Sartilly, formerly Mile. 
Vacheron, and endorsed by your lordship, a bill which shall 
not be negotiated but which shall remain in my hands until 
it falls due." 

What struck Gontran the most was not the heavy per- 
centage for which he was prepared, but the knowledge which 
the man appeared to have of his family affairs, the words 
" formerly Mile. Vacheron," was like the stroke of a whip 
across the face, to the fine gentleman who however did not 
hesitate to extort money from his father-in-law by so mean 
an action. This little feeling of humiliation however did not 
prevent his asking the question that was most important 
to bim. " When can I have the money if I accept these 
terms 1 " 

" To-morrow before twelve o'clock, and if your lordship will 
permit me to call at your house, I will hand over to you in 
exchange for the bill, a cheque for three hundred thousand 
francs on the Bank of France." 

" I had rather conclude the affair this evening," returned 
Gontran, who could not bear the idea of this usurer in 
livery, crossing 1 the threshold of his hous% 



A Capitalist in Livery 75 

" I am entirely at your lordship's orders. I shall not leave 
the club until to-morrow morning." 

" Very well. I shall be back in an hour, I am going to 
dine." 

" All that your lordship has to do will be to send for me," 
said Augustus, bowing and retiring backwards. 

"Then you accept?" asked Saint Senier, as soon as the 
fellow was out of hearing. 

" Yes," growled Gontran, with a shrug of his shoulders, 
" so as to get you out of a fix." 

" Thanks, and I can assure you that you will never regret 
having acted as you have done. The remedy is a heroic one, 
but it will be efficacious. You will gain ten times the sum 
that you have borrowed from this fellow." 

" I hope it may be so, but I am not yet certain whether 
I can persuade my wife, and I have no time to lose in mak- 
ing the attempt, and the first question is, shall I find her at 
home?" 

In bis own heart he knew that he should. Where would 
she have gone after the scene in the Bois de Boulogne. 
There was no question of dining together at a restaurant, as 
had been arranged before her visit to the ex-contractor, and 
Valentine must have returned home to weep. 

Gontran was not at all sure of getting her signature. Her 
disposition was too noble to permit her to lend herself to a 
fraudulent manoeuvre, and he felt that any part that he 
might play would have no effect upon her now, and besides, 
he did not feel inclined to re-commence again. Valentine 
would not be taken in a second time, and he would certainly 
fail in his efforts, like an actor who has rehearsed too much. 
There was therefore nothing for him to do but to employ 
threats, and he determined to do so, though he felt some slight 
repugnance to such a course. But what risk did he run 1 
Was not his wife entirely at his mercy, since she had actually 
signed a permission for him to kill her ? His wife had never 
iu his eyes held any important position in his life, and he 
had merely thought of her as an obstacle, since he had made 
up his mind to possess the haughty Diana, who, he flattered 
himself, would yet yield to a golden attack. Why then 
should he care how he behaved to Vacheron's daughter ? The 
old man must pay, even if Valentine's signature was a forged 
one, indeed, that would be a stronger reason for his doing so, 
for he could not leave his son-in-law in a position which 
would ensure a degrading condemnation. 

" If you have any doubts as to your success, my dear 
fellow," said Saint Senier, who was observing him, " we had 
better call back Augustus, and tell him that the affair is off, 



76 Fickle Heart 

You will then be spared the annoyance of having to inform 
him that you have been black-balled by your wife." 

" You need have no fear of that," returned Gontran, 
wounded to the quick. "I shall bring back the signature 
before seven o'clock." 

" Bravo, I will keep two places at the table for us, and 
until you return, I shall try my chance at baccarat." 

" I am off then. Good luck." 

" It is I who should wish it to you. The game that you 
are going to play is a more important one than mine. 
Eemember my method of breaking them in, a tight hand on 
the rein, that is the way to do it, nothing like it, I assure 
you." 

" It does not appear that you often make use of this famous 
method of yours," sneered Gontran, " for you say you let 
your wife go her own way." 

" Now I do, certainly, but I commenced by establishing 
my authority, but only exercised it when circumstances 
required, and I find it works excellently, for I am as free as 
air, and so is my wife ; everything is for the best in this best 
of worlds, and we agree perfectly. Here is the last instance 
of it. One of the handsomest young fellows that you ever 
saw came to me from Mauritius with a letter of recommen- 
dation, he is very rich, and I will introduce him to the club 
one of these days. He will be a nice pigeon for the lucky 
ones to pluck at baccarat. Well, I introduced him to 
Jeanne, my wife, and they have been having music and sing- 
ing together, and — well, you know music polishes the manners 
and softens the heart." 

The decided cynicism of his friend ended by disgusting 
Gontran. He was not at any time much troubled by scruples, 
he did not mind reducing his wife to beggary, but he would 
have been furious had she taken a lover, and the manner in 
which Saint Senier talked of his wife's infidelities, caused 
him to experience a feeling of repulsion for him. Not enough 
however, to prevent his going into partnership with him. He 
therefore cut short the conversation, and went off to procure 
the signature, failing which the loan would fall through, 
and firmly determined to bring it back at any cost. 



CHAPTER X I 

THE SIGNATURE TO TUB BILL 

M. de Saint SENiERlet him go. That worthy gentleman did 
not doubt for a moment but that Gontran would procure the 
signature by hook or by crook, and that their partnership 
would be concluded the next day. On all sides he stood to 
win, and he cared little for anything else; But as he never 
liked to lose his time, he started off in search of a table where 
high play was going on. There was always one between five 
and seven o'clock, and the steady-going gamblers met at it 
by mutual consent. The one where play began at midnight 
and ended with daylight, attracted the younger and faster 
element, and at the conclusion there was always an exchange 
of promissory notes of more or less doubtful value. Saint 
Senier played at both, but he found it a better and a surer 
game to risk his money before dinner. The room devoted 
to the mysteries of baccarat was quite close to the billiard 
room, and he repaired thither, but he found that play had 
not yet commenced, although a numerous party had 
assembled'. All were most desirous to commence, but they 
were pulling themselves together before getting to serious 
work. Meanwhile they talked, some discussed the grave 
question of standing on a five, whilst others chatted about 
tne new pieces at the theatres and the most fashionable 
women. 

" Does any one know Mme. de Sartilly's companion 1 " 
asked a young masher, raising his voice above the general 
hum of conversation. 

" What, the auburn-haired woman with the emerald 
eyes ! " exclaimed a lieutenant of dragoons, who was much 
of tener to be found at the club than at his quarters at 
the military school. " She is the handsomest girl in Paris." 

" Unhappily, however, there is nothing to be done in that 
quarter, for her virtue is impregnable," observed a third. 

" Not now. I have just met her in the Bois, in one of the 
roads where hardly anyone goes, by the Auteuil Lake." 

" Alone 1 " 

" Not a bit of it. She was driving about in a cab with a 
lover, and a very nice lover too, though he looked very seedy, 
muffled up in a fur coat, and as pale as if he was in a 



78 Mckle Heart 

galloping consumption. He appeared like a convalescent out 
for his first drive, and she like a Sister of Charity." 

" That is not her style at all ; and was the sick man her 
lover ? " 

" I am certain of it, and I should like to know what M. 
de Sartilly thinks of it." 

" It is a pity then that you did not ask him, for he was in 
the club five minutes ago," remarked Saint Senier, drily, for 
he was not pleased that there should be any scandalous gossip 
regarding his future partner. Then as no one answered, he 
continued : " He will be here again at seven, and will I am 
sure be only too willing to give any explanation to those 
who desire information concerning his wife's companion." 

This remark was made in such a tone that even the most 
inquisitive did not care to press the matter. 

Sartilly was well known not to be the most patient of 
men, and Saint Senier permitted none to tread on his corns 
with impunity. Of all the characteristics of a gentleman, 
courage was the only one that this complaisant husband 
retained. " In the meantime," resumed he, " I will make a 
bank of a thousand louis, if none of you will bid higher. 
Come gentlemen, put it up to auction. What, no bidders, 
then it is mine." Then turning to the old soldier whom lie 
had defeated at billiards, he added : 

" Now, Colonel, you have a chance of taking your revenge." 

"Thank you," returned the retired officer, " you are too 
lucky. I shall wait to play against you until you are a 
widower." 

" What do you mean, sir 1 " asked the Count, drawing 
himself up. "Am Ito look upon this as an impertinent allusion. 
The common saying is, ' Lucky at cards unlucky in love ' " 

" Well, and you are unlucky in matrimonial love, as you 
know very well." 

" I may be so, but I will not suffer anyone to call me so. 
My seconds shall wait upon you to-morrow morning." 

" I shall expect them," growled the colonel, who had not 
anticipated being pulled up so sharply. 

The laughers were not on his side. There was a dead 
silence in the room, as there usually is on such an occasion. 
The majority of those present considered that the colonel 
was in the wrong, and made a note to themselves that it was 
not advisable to irritate a husband who evidently was not so 
complaisant as they had thought, and so no one cared to 
bring the subject of Mile, de Ganges' sentimental promenade 
up again. During this short altercation the Count had 
behaved himself in a totally different manner, and it was 
with perfect calmness that he took his place in the centre of 



The Signature to the Bill 79 

the table, and prepared to hold the bank against all comers. 
The players only waited for this signal to begin, and the 
colonel left the room muttering curses. All heavy players 
believe in some kind of fetish. Some put faith in a ring, 
others in the pendents of a watch chain, some will only 
stake with their hats on, or when chewing a toothpick, 
Others again insist on wearing spectacles, although they 
possess excellent sight, whilst some before venturing to enter 
their club, will walk for hours in the streets hoping to 
meet a hunch-back person, and gently touch the hump. 
M. de Saint Senier put no faith in all these superstitions, 
even that which ascribes to deceived husbands the privilege of 
always gaining. He only believed in turning up the cards 
that were dealt by chance, and the science of taking one at 
the right time ; and his philosophical view of the game 
generally succeeded marvellously. This evening however 
he commenced by dropping a few hundred louis, and 
his bank was at its last gasp, when all at once the luck 
changed, and began to show itself in a formidable manner. 
He won in a truly extraordinary way : when his opponents 
stood on eight, he turned up nine ; if he had only an ace, he still 
gained, and he was always fortunate enough to get a four if 
he took a card on a five ; and he received all these strokes of 
good fortune with an air of indifference which exasperated his 
opponents. This was not the first time that he had plun- 
dered them in a similar manner, and more than one would, 
had he dared, have hurled at his head the same apostrophe 
that the short-tempered colonel had already made use of. 

Things were even worse when after the deal was over he 
rose from his seat, went through his counters that were heaped 
up in front of him, and going to the cashier of the club, con- 
verted them into bank-notes. If he had openly robbed them, 
his departure could not have evoked a more bitter storm of 
maledictions. But M. de Saint Senier occupied himself as 
little with the anger of his victims, as he did with the pranks 
of his wife. It was a matter of the most perfect indifference 
to him whether anyone bore him a grudge or not, so long as 
he made a good thing of it, and he certainly had made one 
this evening. Something like thirty thousand francs in less 
than an hour, which was sufficient to console himself for the 
curses heaped upon him by people for whom he did not 
care a bit. 

All that remained for him now was to conclude Sartilly's 
affair, and he went into the reading-room to .pass away the 
time by glancing at the papers until his future partner 
should make his appearance. Generally he hardly looked at 
them, for he took no interest in politics, although he felt 



SO Fickle Heart 

obliged to profess those of his own class. The events of the 
day had no charms for him, and he knew nothing of litera- 
ture. But by mere chance in one of the Boulevard paj^ers he 
came across the following : 

" There was a great disturbance last night in the District 
of the Etoile. A continued series of pistol shots, almost mak- 
ing us think that we were in a shooting-gallery. Was it all 
' Much Ado about Nothing, 1 as Shakespeare has it 1 Or was 
it the noisy conclusion of some domestic drama 1 Now or 
never is the time for us to say, ' Find the woman.'' " 

At any other time M. de Saint Senier would have paid no 
attention to this enigma, which had perhaps been invented 
by some journalist short of copy, but he remembered that 
that very morning he had had to impose silence on his valet, 
when he tried to tell him of something similar, and he asked 
himself if this had taken place in the neighbourhood of his 
house. 

His wife's name was not mixed up in it, indeed, it was not 
even hinted at, and he did not believe that she had any- 
thing to do with the shooting. But Sartilly's house was 
only separated from his by a narrow street, and he could not 
help fancying that something startling had taken place at his 
neighbour's house. The remarks that he had just heard on 
the freak of the beautiful companion of the Countess de Sar- 
tilly seemed to confirm this suspicion, and he determined to 
try and clear up this mystery. Sartilly had told him that there 
was some unpleasantness in his household, and the nocturnal 
scene to which the papers alluded was perhaps the cause of 
it. "Bah," thought Saint Senier, " what have I to do with 
all this ? Sartilly has engaged to bring me the bill with his 
wife's signature, and he will do so. It signifies very little to 
me how he contrives to get it." 

About half past six Gontran came in. He was very pale, 
and seemed so tired that Saint Senier jestingly asked him 
if he had walked both ways. 

" No ; I took a cab, but it jolted me awfully," answered 
Sartilly. 

" You must expect that. Well, have you succeeded ? " 

" I have." 

" Not without some difficulty, eh 1 " 

" On the contrary. My wife offered no opposition." 

" Then all is well, and we have nothing to do but to ring 
for Augustus and complete the matter." 

" The bill must be stamped, for there are no bill stamps 
ready made fot so large a sum." 

"That is a mere matter of form to go through, and Augustus 
will look to it. We will see him in the little red drawing-room.'' 



The Signature to the Bill 81 

The Viscount led off Gontran, and told him on the way how 
Mme. de Sartilly's companion had been seen in the Bois de 
Boulogne alone with a handsome young man, to which 
Gontran replied : 

"Ah, she has overstepped the boundary. I expected 
as much, and I am not sorry, for I was going to turn her 
off." 

" Good," returned Saint Senier, " you treat matters in a 
proper way, and you are right to do so ; but I read in one of 
the papers that they were firing off revolvers in our neigh- 
bourhood. Do you know anything of it 1 " 
" Do you 1 " asked Gontran, impatiently. 
" My servant tried to tell me something about it, but I 
woiild not listen to him. So this story does not affect you 
at all ? " 

"No more than it does you, I suppose." 
"Oh! for my part I laugh at it. The paper hints that 
there is someone's wife at the bottom of it, and you know my 
principles. Talking of wives reminds me that I have 
quarrelled with Colonel Tarsac ! Yes, my dear fellow, I have 
a duel on my hands, and I rely upon you to call upon him 
to-morrow on my behalf to arrange matters for the meeting. 
Take whom you like as the other second, Mussidan will do, 
and he will not refuse me, I am sure. Try to get the sword 
chosen as the weapon. I am a first-rate fencer, nor am I 
bad with the pistol, and I will give this impertinent fellow a 
good lesson." 

" What, are you going to fight for Mme. Saint Senier 1 " 
" Does that astonish you ? She is utterly indifferent to 
me, and I do not put myself up as the champion of her 
virtue. But I will not allow anyone to jeer at me, and this 
ill-bred soldier has presumed to jest about my conjugal mis- 
haps in public, and I intend to chastise him. As a man of 
good family, you can understand this." 

" Perfectly," answered Sartilly, who, like his partner, was 
capable of everything except trifling with what in society 
is called honour. The entrance of the card-room waiter 
put an end to this dialogue. He came in with a smile on his 
lips, but Gontran fancied that he could detect beneath it a 
certain amount of uneasiness. " M. de Sartilly has brought 
the bill duly signed," began Saint Senier. "Have you 
drawn out the cheque on the Bank of France ? " 
" Yes, my lord," answered Augustus, respectfully. 
" Here is the bill," continued Sartilly, taking it from his 
pocket-book, and handing it to him. " Both the signatures 
are there, but there is no stamp." 

Augustus took it and examined it attentively. 

a 



82 Fickle Heart 

" Well," ask Saint Senier, " do you think that the signa- 
tures are forged 1 " 

" Oh, my lord, how can you think of such a thing ?" 
replied the man. " I have not the honour of being 
acquainted with that of the Countess, but I should not for a 
moment permit myself to doubt " 

"You need not doubt anything," interrupted Saint Senier. 
" Hand over the cheque in exchange for the bill. It would 
perhaps have been more according to rule if Mme. de Sar- 
tilly had signed in your presence, but you are sufii-_ 
ciently intelligent to understand that that was quite out of 
the question. The word of my friend ought to be enough 
for you, and I will be his security, morally of course. If I do 
not put my signature by the side of that of M. de 
Sartilly, it is because it would not be right for my name 
to appear in a private transaction between him, his wife, and 
his father-in-law -" 

Augustus bowed, and handed over the cheque. Evidently 
M. de Saint Senier's word was law to him. " I will under- 
take to get it stamped," said ie as he left them. 

"And now, my friend," observed Saint Senier, rubbing his 
hands, " we are going on like steam, and in three months you 
will see the results of our partnership. Confess that you 
have acted wisely in following my advice. You see you had 
but to say the word, and your wife did as you desired. I 
was sure of it ; you had only to take her the right way. 
Come, they have announced dinner, and we will continue 
our conversation when we leave the table." 

Gontran allowed himself to be led to the table by his 
excellent friend Saint Senier, who thought to himself, 
"Whether his wife has signed, or he has signed for her, 
Vacheron will certainly take up the bill when it falls due." 



CHAPTER XII 

AN UNLICENSED EDEN 

Paris will soon be nothing else than a heap of houses packed 
closely one against the other like herrings in a barrel. 
Little by little the gardens are disappearing before the mass 
of stone and brickwork. Flagstones are covering up lawns, 
as the rising tide hides the sands of the shore. In a few 
years from this, there will be no more trees, save those 
in the public spaces and promenades, and the parks which 
surround the mansions of the nobility will share the same 



An Unlicensed Eden 83 

fate as the more humble gardens, for even gigantic fortunes 
cannot long resist the periodical divisions amongst inheritors. 

However, there still exist in half-forgotten corners of 
Auteuil, cottages placed in the midst of umbrageous en- 
closures, but the most of them show the ravages of time, for 
they are seldom repaired, and are devoted to swift-coming 
destruction. The Parisians have a mania for designating the 
spots where they live by foreign names. A collection of 
cottages is called a villa. Borne has its Villa Borghese, 
Auteuil has its Villa Montmorency, and Passy has its Prince's 
Park, where princes are hardly ever to be found, anymore than 
they are in the rustic dwellings that are grouped about the 
entrance to the Bue Poussin and the boulevard which lines 
the inside of the fortifications. Most of these are let to 
honest married couples, who live as though they were in the 
country, but a few serve as retreats for lovers. Lovers are 
not too difficult to please ; as long as they can have air, 
flowers, and solitude, they ask for nothing else. All these 
could be found in the Villa des Primeveres, which is situated 
nearly in the centre of the Villa Montmorency, and which 
served as a refuge for a pair of lovers who came to a sad end. 
A Bussian hid bought it to live in with an English lady, the 
wife of a British peer, with whom he had run away. One 
morning they were both found dead. The man had blown 
out his brains after having stabbed his mistress to the heart. 
The result of this melancholy drama was that this ill-omened 
dwelling remained empty for five years, no one caring to 
become the tenants of a house in which so terrible a tragedy 
had taken place. 

Diana de Ganges had little superstition in her nature, 
had no fears about residing in it. 

She had remarked it a long time back in one of her rides 
about Auteuil, and when she left the home of the Sartilly's 
for ever she had come and established herself there, but she 
had not come alone. There she had lived for the past six 
weeks, and had not felt a shadow of regret in having deserted 
the tents of respectability. This nobiy-born orphan was a 
strange girl, and she had not deserved her nickname of Pickle 
Heart, for she had had no lover before she met the 
wounded man that she had picked up and sheltered on that 
winter's night. The same feelings had inspired them both at 
the same instant, and they had yielded to these at once. 
Diana had almost said, " You are the realisation of my 
dreams," and George had answered, " I adore you," and a 
free and unauthorised union had followed this improvised 
betrothal. 

The young man's wound was not a very severe one ; it was 



84 Fickle Heart 

a mere flesh wound in the arm ; and Mile, de Ganges had 
dressed it with her own fair hands. They had fled away 
together before the break of day, and before the setting of 
the sun they were installed together in the Villa des 
Primeveres. The member of the club who had spoken of 
having met them the day after the pistol shots had been tired 
had encountered them on their way to take possession of 
their new abode. Since her hurried flight Diana had had 
leisure to enter into full explanations with George. She 
knew all his history now ; it was not a long one ; for he was 
only twenty years of age — three years younger than she was 
— and the incidents of his life, which were not numerous, for 
he had only just arrived in Paris when the ardent Viscountess 
had taken possession of him at his very first visit. From the 
first day of their life together Diana had laid down her con- 
ditions. She wished to live with her lover in perfect equality 
— that is to say, each paying their own expenses. George 
was a minor to whom his guardian in the Mauritius made an 
allowance of fifty thousand francs a year, and he would, on 
attaining his majority, enter into possession of an enormous 
fortune. Mile, de Ganges would not take any portion of this, 
and insisted in contenting herself with six thousand livres 
per annum, which was the amount of her income. She had 
at her own expense taken the villa completely furnished, and 
paid her personal expenses out of her own pocket. But she 
never intended that later on George should not have rooms 
of his own, and also carriages and horses. She had also 
decided that she would make use of these when the fancy should 
seize her to appear in the world of Paris, and to show her- 
self in all the splendour of her magnificent independence to 
those who had known her poor but haughty in the house of 
the Countess de Sartilly. Put the hour for exhibiting this 
transformation had not yet struck. Diana had no desire to 
hasten its coming, and her lover waited for it without 
impatience. Their life flowed on like some limj}id stream. 
One happy day followed another, and they never wearied of 
telling one another how great was their love. 

They seldom went out except in the evening, and then they 
would wander hand in hand through the least frequented 
walks of the Bois de Boulogne, and as no one had yet discovered 
their retreat they never spoke to a living soul. George had 
brought with him from Mauritius his foster-brother, a negro 
of the purest race, who waited upon them both with un- 
paralled devotion, and, thanks to the attentions of honest 
Domingo, Diana was perfectly able to dispense with the 
services of a waiting-woman. Kose had remained behind at 
the Sartillys' and fearing to put the Count on her track, 



An Unlicensed Eden 85 

Diana did not attempt to summon her former maid. She had 
given her address at the post office in the Place de la 
Madeleine, so that they might'send her Valentine's telegram, 
if one should be dispatched, but none had yet arrived. 

She had almost forgotten her dear Valentine, for love is a 
selfish passion, and her whole being was absorbed in it ; 
but she sometimes reproached herself for this indifference on 
her part, and often vowed that she would write again, and 
give her new address. She was most anxious to know how 
things were going on between the Countess and her husband. 
Since she had left the house Diana had had no intelligence 
direct or indirect regarding this dangerous man, for no 
society gossip reached the Villa des Prime veres, and the 
lovers did not waste their time in reading the papers. 
Nothing was wanting for their comfort. Diana had left 
behind her her dresses and linen, but in Paris money can 
procure everything in a very few days, and Diana was soon 
equipped as well as ever. As for George, he had nothing to 
do but to send Domingo to the Hotel Meurice, where he had 
put up, for his baggage. The pleasant little cottage was a 
more agreeable residence than many a more sumptuous 
apartment nearer the centre of the great city. In the first place, 
it was situated in the midst of a garden filled with flowers, 
which Domingo looked after with the greatest attention. 
Negroes are, as a rule, born gardeners and cooks. 
There were even some fine trees in the grounds. The 
house had not suffered from not having been occupied ; indeed, 
there had been less wear and tear. The furniture was in 
good condition. The landlord had purchased it from the 
executors of the dead Russian, and had had it looked after 
with a view to a future tenant. The house was built of wood, 
and had two storeys above the ground floor, in which were 
the kitchen and offices. 

On the second floor were two bedrooms and dressing-rooms, 
and on the first a dining-room and two sitting-rooms, one large 
and the other small, both of which opened on to a veranda, 
as they always do in every villa worthy of being so called. 
The smaller one had in it a piano, and couches of all shapes 
and colours, and there the Russian had lived in an Eastern 
fashion, smoking cigarettes of Turkish tobacco, whilst his 
mistress soothed him with music. It was in this room also 
that George and Diana passed their days, intoxicated with 
love and melody. 

April had arrived ; the air was full of the breath of the 
spring ; and the birds fluttered hither and thither, building 
their nests in the highest branches of an acacia which stood 
before their open window. 



86 Fickle Heart 

Diana, half reclining on a couch, was amusing herself by 
passing her snow-white fingers through George's hair, who 
was reclining at her feet. They uttered no sound ; why 
should they ? The language of the eye is enough for 
enraptured lovers, and they shot ardent glances at one 
another, in which they had poured all the love and passion 
of their hearts. 

George was a different being from what he had been at 
Mme. de Sartilly's on that memorable night, where he had 
braved death to save her from her husband's wrath. Since 
he had lived with Diana, the youth had become a man, like a 
plant shoots suddenly up when it is placed under glass, and 
warmed with the beams of the sun. His sun was the passion 
of love, which had blazed forth in his hitherto virgin heart 
—the passion of a first love. Mile, de Ganges had also under- 
gone a complete transformation. Her beauty had as it were 
become permanently fixed. The hot blood of youth tinted 
her cheeks, her eyes sparkled with a new light, they almost 
seemed to throw out flames. Gontran de Sartilly would 
assuredly have hardly recognised her, and had he seen her 
passing her fingers over George's handsome head as it rested 
on her knees, he would have become mad with rage and 
jealousy. At that time she never allowed her thoughts 
to turn to him for a moment. Diana was permitting herself 
the luxury of living without a thought of the past, or a care 
for the future. 

" George," murmured she softly, " sing me the song of 
Fortunio." George lifted his great dark eyes to her face, 
and sang the first couplet of that delicious song, written by 
Alfred de Musset, and set to music by Offenbach : 

" Do you believe me when I say 
That I have dared to love thee." 

His voice was wanting in power, but it was very sweet, and 
he threw so much expression into the words that Diana, filled 
with rapture, did not wait for the conclusion, but taking her 
lover's head between both her hands covered his face with 
kisses. " Hush," she said, " you will drive me wild, certainly 
I love you too fondly." 

"Never too fondly," replied George in a low voice. "I 
adore you, and I do not think that that is enough." 

" Truly 1 Are you speaking the truth 1 Tell me are you 
not yet wearied of the life that we have led since I carried 
you away 1 " 

" All my hope is that it may last for ever." 

" Swear to me that you regret nothing, that you do not yet 



An Unlicensed Eden 87 

weary for anything, and that you do not for a moment long 
for the pleasures of Paris of which I am depriving you." 

" I know nothing of them, nor do I desire to do so. Why 
then should I regret them ? " 

" How can I tell ? There was the Viscountess, for instance." 

" That foolish old woman. Why, you know that I risked 
my life to escape from her clutches." 

" But I am too old for you, who are only twenty, for I am 
twenty-three." 

George closed her mouth with a passionate kiss, and in a 
moment they forgot all the outer world. But even the most 
passionate transports must come to a close, and Diana re- 
sumed, with a smile, " I have never clearly understood your 
adventure with the Viscountess. I know that you escaped from 
her house at three o'clock in the morning, but nothing proves 
to me that you would not have remained had not her husband 
come in." 

" It was not her husband ; it was her servant." 

"What! a servant?" 

" Mme. de Saint Senier had kept me to listen to Mauritian 
airs. She was born there, you know." 

" A fine excuse, indeed." 

" I thought it was merely a pretext, so I made some excuse 
for leaving." 

" And she threw herself into your arms ? " 

" Very nearly. I do not know how I disengaged myself, 
luckily the door was opened, and at the most critical moment 
I saw a tall fellow in livery come in." 

" A sort of giant with enormous black whiskers 1 " 

" Yes, how do you know that ? " 

" That was her coachman ; I have seen him pass dozens of 
times driving his mistress to the Bois. What did he want 
with her at that hour ? " 

" I did not understand at first. He commenced by saying 
that M. de Saint Senier was coming in. Afterwards I 
thought that this was a falsehood, but I took advantage of 
the opportunity to rush out of the drawing-room. I only 
stopped to throw my greatcoat over my shoulders, for I had. 
taken it off in the ante-chamber, and forgot all about 
my hat." 

" Why all this haste, you had nothing to reproach yourself 
with?" 

"I had lost my presence of mind, I believed that the 
Viscount was coming, and that he would surprise me with his 
wife. I cared nothing for her, but I had no wish to com- 
promise her good name. I ran down the staircase as fast as I 
could and had almost reached the foot of it when I heard some 



88 Fickle Heart 

one running after me. I threw open a door, passed across a 
courtyard the gate of which was not closed, and at the 
moment I got into the street I heard a voice calling after me 
'Stop or you are a dead man.' I had half a mind to turn 
round and face my adversary, who, I did not doubt for a 
moment was M. de Saint Senier, but he knew me as I had 
handed him my letter of introduction upon my arrival in 
Paris. It was therefore necessary to escape him at all risks. 
I climbed over a gate which was in front of me, saw an open 

window " 

" Valentine's window, I know what happened then, but the 
man what did he do 1 " 

" He had lost sight of me for a moment, but he doubtless 
thought that I had taken refuge in M. de Sartilly's house, 
for he took up a position in front of the window, I could trace 
out his form in the shade." 

" And in spite of that you leapt out to save my poor friend, 
and had there been no other reason I should have loved you 
for that. Then according to your idea you do not think that 
it was M. de Saint Senier who fired at you and wounded you 
in the arm ? " 

"No, I am sure that it was the servant. Whilst he was 
watching for me I went to the window, and without 
being seen, I could catch the gleam of his livery buttons ; 
but then he may have fired on me by his master's orders." 

" What a child you are. Do you think that the Viscount 
would risk penal servitude in order to get rid of one of his 
wife's lovers ? Why, she has plenty of them, and he is not 
at all jealous." 

" Who was it then that tried to kill me ? " 
" Have you not guessed that it was the coachman ? " 
" Yes, it was he who fired, but why did he do so % " 
" Because he is Mme. de Saint Senier's lover, you simple 
George. Had you permitted yourself to fall in love with 
her, you would have found a rival in the person of this 
fellow. He thought that you were going to steal away his 
Viscountess from him, and he wanted to put a stop to it. I 
expect he gave it her soundly afterwards ; I should not 
wonder if he had beaten her." And Diana laughed with all 
the gaiety of her heart. 

" But this woman is more vicious than the most degraded 
of her sex," exclaimed George. 

" She is a lady that moves in the best society, and mixes 
with duchesses. She used to look down upon me from the 
pinnacle of her grandeur when I lived with the Sartilly's 
and no doubt she despises me profoundly now. But this is 
the way in which things go on ill this Paris where you have 



An Unlicensed Eden 89 

just arrived with all the illusions of your age from the island 
where Paul and Virginia lived and loved." 
" As we do." 

" Not exactly ; and I confess that I like our way the 
best," replied Mile, de Ganges, gaily. " The only question is, 
will it last 1 That is all that sometimes disturbs me." 

" Why should it ever finish 1 " asked George, winding his 
arm round the neck of his beautiful mistress. " Are we not 
both free ? There is nothing to prevent our being married. 
" I should not care for it," answered Diana, quickly. " It 
would be the certain means to make us disagree. You do 
not understand me. Know me better, my George. I am a 
creature made up of whims, and I have never been willing to 
submit to any authority. Should anyone attempt to restrain 
me, I would break their bonds. I will obey no one but my 
lover. I will willingly be your slave, but my slavery must 
be voluntary ; and if I married you, it would cease to be so. 
My love for freedom is so strong that I loathe all conven- 
tionalities. Had you been properly introduced to me, I do 
not think that I should ever have been yours : the strange- 
ness of the incident drove me to your arms." 

George listened to her no longer , he clasped her to his 
breast, and his soul sped away to the land of dreams. 

A voice calling to him from the garden brought him down 
to earth once more, and substituted reality for sentiment. 
" Master," said Domingo, " I want to speak to you." 
"Well, come up, then," cried George. The lovers rose up 
at the same moment, and came into the veranda that sur- 
rounded the villa. Domingo approached them showing his 
white teeth, and in his honest black face it was easy to read 
that he would have thrown himself into the fire for his foster 
brother. 

" What is the matter ? " asked George. 
" There is a white man that bothers me," answered 
Domingo. 

" What do you mean 1 How does he bother you ? " 
" Well, master, you know when I went with you the day 
after we came to Paris to the house of that lady who comes 
from over there — from Mauritius 1 " 

" The Viscountess of Saint Senier," said George, with a 
frown. 

" Yes, master, we went there in a carriage, and I remained 
in the street ; and that lady's coachman was there. Whilst 
you were inside he talked to me, asked me where I came 
from, and who you were, and I told him. Was I wrong % " 

Was it to repeat this conversation to me, that you 
ventured to disturb me 1 " 



90 Fickle Heart 

" No, master ; but when you send me to Paris, I go by the 
Avenue d'Eylau." 

" And you have met this fellow ? " 

" Yes, master, he was smoking his pipe at the door of a 
public-house. He recognised me at once, called out to me, 
and asked me to have a glass of rum with him." 

" I thought that I had forbidden you to talk to anyone 
at all." 

" Oh, I did not talk much ; he did all the talking, I only 
did the drinking." 

" And you got drunk, you foolish fellow ? " 

" No, master, Domingo can carry more liquor than all 
these whites ; and Domingo knew how to hold his tongue. 
He wanted to know where you lived, but he got nothing out 
of me ; only the next day " 

" Well, what happened then 1 " asked George sharply. 

" The next day, master, he did not come up and speak to me 
when I passed on the way back, but he saw me through the 
window, and followed me some distance off." 

" You should have turned round and thrashed him." 

" I should like to have done so," answered Domingo, scratch- 
ing his ear, " but he is bigger and stronger than I am, and I 
think that he would have beaten me ; and then I did not 
catch sight of him until I was in the Boulevard Mont- 
morency." 

" When you did so, you should have run off." 

" That is just what I did. I found a passage between two 
houses, I jumped over a fence, and reached the villa. I think 
that he lost sight of me." 

" You think, you idiot, but you are not sure, when did this 
happen ? " 

" Yesterday, master." 

" And you said nothing about it 1 " 

" I thought that it was of no importance, but since then I 
have reflected, and the man's behaviour seems suspicious, 
and I want to ask you what I am to do if this rogue comes 
hanging about here ? " 

George hardly knew what to say, but consulted Mile, de 
Ganges by a glance, who coolly replied, " He is here now, I 
can see him." 

" Where do you see him 1 " asked George, quickly. 
" Down there, behind the hedge, he has doffed his livery, 
but I can easily recognise him." 

The garden of the villa was only surrounded by a fence 
covered with ivy, and from the veranda the road outside it 
could easily be seen. 
The Countess's coachman was standing in the middle of the 



Aii Unlicensed Eden 91 

road. He had caught sight of the young man whom he had 
previously surprised in his mistress's room, and he was 
looking at him from a distance with an unpleasant per- 
tenacity. 

" I know him now," exclaimed George, " and I will just go 
and ask him what he means by spying on me like this." 

Mile, de Ganges held him back saying, "You know why he 
is doing it, therefore it is useless to question him ; and as I 
suppose you do not want to come to blows with him, I advise 
you to let him go his own way. He will not stay there long 
now that he has seen all he wants to see. Look, he is even 
now going." 

Diana was right. The coachman went off with long 
strides, and soon disappeared at the turn of the road. If the 
man had been charged by his mistress with the mission of 
finding out where George lived he had fully succeeded. 

" Just as I told you, master," murmured Domingo. " If he 
followed me, it was to know where you lived, and now he 
has got his information." 

" It is all your fault," returned George, roughly. " Now 
go away." 

The negro left them very sadly, with Iris head bent down. 
" Our dream is over," said Diana, as soon as they were 
alone. 

" Why ? Because that woman knows where we live, I do 
not suppose that she will come and take me away." 

" She is capable of trying to ; but I am not afraid of that. 
You know what she is now, and would send her back to her 
husband ; it is not her visit that I dread." 
" What are you afraid of then ? " 

" That coachman is mixed up with the servants of M. de 
Sartilly, especially with Francis, his valet ; he will tell him 
all that he has seen, and Francis will repeat it to his master." 
" Well, what then 1 " 

" His master will come here. You heard what he said in 
my room, when you were stretched on my bed ? " 

" I have not forgotten the insolent proposals that he 
made to you. Do you think that he will renew them 1 " 

"I am sure he will, and with greater vigour. Whilst I 
was his wife's companion he preserved some outward sem- 
blance of decency, but now that I have fallen, he will keep 
himself within no bounds." 

" Let him come, I shall be here." 

"And if you were not, I should know how to defend 
myself ; but if he came you would demand satisfaction for 
his conduct 1 " 
" Moat certainly." 



92 Fickle Heart 

" But I do not wish you to fight with that man, for he 
would kill you." 

" I would rather be killed, than give you up to him." 
" There is no fear of that," answered Mile, de Ganges with 
a smile, " but you must take my advice. This Don Juan 
that I hate and despise, will not get hold of me against my 
will. What we want to do is to stop his attacks once and 
for ever, and the only means of doing so is to face the 
danger." 

"I do not understand you." 

" You are going to do so. We have been hiding ourselves 
here, as if we were criminals, and have been nursing the hope 
that the world would take no heed of us, but we have now a 
proof to the contrary. Mme. de Saint Senier has hunted 
you up, and the Count de Sartilly will do the same for me to- 
morrow, without counting in a number of evil-minded fools, 
who will endeavour to discover our secret, and disturb our 
love. Do not let us wait for them to find us. Let us show 
ourselves boldly, and go forth with our heads high, and hand 
clasped in hand. Let us defy our enemies, and they will fall 
back, and then we shall have really gained the right to love 
each other openly." 

" That is what I asked you to do just now." 
"No, you asked me to marry you, and that is not at all the 
same thing. I have told you how I look upon marriage, and 
I shall not change my opinion." 

" What do you want me to do then 1" 
" I want you to exhibit me publicly as your mistress. I 
want you to show yourself everywhere with me, at the 
theatre, in the Bois, at the races. I want all Paris to know 
that Diana de Ganges lives with George Cezambre." 
" You burn your boats by doing so," murmured George. 
" Yes, so that neither of us may ever go back. When 
our connection shall once have been made public, we shall 
be bound to one another, and it will protect us against men 
and women ; from men like Gontran de Sartilly, and women 
like the Viscountess Saint Senier, and we shall be left in 
peace." 

" Are you sure of that ? " 

" As sure as I am of loving, and being loved by you ; and 
I tell you again that if we remain thus, every effort will be 
made to separate us ; such an action is one of the chief 
pleasures of unprincipled men, and heartless flirts ; but if 
we boldly brave the opinion of the world in displaying our 
love, they will shrink from attacking us." 
"You have more to lose than I have." 
" What matters that ? " asked Diana proudly. " I like to 



Aii Unlicensed Eden 93 

compromise myself, and for you I would make much greater 
sacrifices. Besides, we have no choice left us. The daylight 
has penetrated the dim retreat of our love. Let us there- 
fore throw it open to ail the world, and once more return to 
everyday life." 

"To quit this vilki where we were so happy," sighed 
George. 

" Who speaks of leaving it ? I should feel that as much 
as you. We will remain here all the spring, only we will 
not shut ourselves up any more, but will lead a new life. 
Domingo is an excellent servant, but he will not be sufficient, 
I will engage a maid, aud a cook, and you shall see how well 
I can look after a house ; but that is not all, at the end of 
the garden there is a coach-house and a stable. You shall 
have a cab, and a victoria, two harness and two saddle 
horses " 

" We have them already. I wished to give to you a 
surprise, aud did not speak of it before lest you should 
refuse to make use of them. I have not even seen them 
yet. Domingo managed it all. He drives excellently, and 
can look after horses well." 

" Brave Domingo ! then we shall have no need of a coach- 
man, and I distrust them much, and now, my George, since 
we are agreed, promise me that we shall go to the races next 
Sunday 1 " 

" To the races ! " 

" True, you come from your island home, and do not know 
that in April all the world hurries to Longchamps. You 
shall see how delightful the first spring meeting is. Then 
what a splendid opportunity to make our first appearance. 
Everyone will be there — The Count de Sartilly — Mme. de 
Saint Senier — and her hideous husband." 

" And Mme. de Sartilly, I suppose," said George in a half 
whisper. 

A shade of sadness passed across Diana's face. " Yes, 
Valentine also," murmured she. " I shall be pleased to see 
her again ; and yet she will not dare to speak to me, and 
heaven only knows what she will think of me, when she 
sees me drive up in a handsome carriage. But now, George, 
I forgot to tell you that there must be no change in our 
arrangements. I will ride your horses and drive in your 
carriages, but I shall continue to pay my own expenses, and 
I will prove to you that with six thousand francs a year, a 
woman can be dressed quite elegantly enough to be worthy 
even of a millionaire like you. The only misfortune is that 
Valentine may be deceived, and 1 should not like to lose her 
esteem. I shall write to her this evening, and I hope that 



94 Fickle Heart 

she will reply to me. She must have so much to say to me. 
Perhaps even she may come to see me, now that she will 
know my address." 

" Should she do so, I will endeavour not to be here." 

'' That will be best ; your presence would embarrass her in 
more than one way ; though she must certainly have a good 
opinion of you, considering what you risked for her. But 
now that I think of it, if we are to go to the races next 
Sunday, you have to lose no time in getting your carriages 
here, and so you must go to Paris to-day." 

"Without you?" 

" Yes, dearest, without me. You must accustom yourself 
to leave me for an hour or two. I do not wish my lover to be 
always tied to my apron strings, and this will be an excel- 
lent opportunity to essay a temporary separation. It is a 
fine day, the Auteuil station is close by, I will show you the 
way to it, for I want a walk, and until you have your own 
horses and equipages, you may as well use the train." 

" As you like, only I warn you that I shall soon be back 
again." 

" I shall be delighted ; I hope, however, that you are not 
jealous ? " 

" No, but I love you so much." 

" You say that too often. Prove it to me by not lingering 
in Paris. And now let us go ; I will run and put on my hat, 
it will not take five minutes. Be ready when I come down." 

Since her residence in the villa, Diana had not lost the 
good habit of dressing herself the moment she got up, for 
her instinct had told her that if she wanted to please her 
lover, he must not see her all day in a dressing-gown and 
slippers. 

Before five minutes had elapsed, she passed through the 
garden leaning on George's arm, who took no more heed than 
she did of the persons they might meet on their way to the 
station. 



CHAPTEE XIII 

CARTE AND TIERCE 

The distance from the Villa Montmorency to the station is 
not great, but lovers, like schoolboys, always take the longest 
way round, and do not walk very quickly. Diana and George 
walked down the Rue Lafontame, exchanging those words 
which are unintelligible to the indifferent, but which pene- 
trate to the very souls of those who love passionately. They 



Carte and Tierce 95 

cared nothing as to what time the train would come in, and 
for very little they would have adjourned the trip which was 
to separate them for a few hours, until the next day. Diana, 
however, insisted upon it, for she was determined to show 
herself at the races at Longchamps, and she had managed 
to bring George Cezambre to feel with her on this matter, 
and he was going off to make all necessary arrangements for 
the carriage and horses, which were on the following Sunday 
to convey them to the lawn in front of the Grand Stand. 
As they came upon the open space in front of the Gate of 
Auteuil, Mile. M. Ganges recognised, and pointed out to 
George the embarrassing figure of the coachman, seated 
under the arbour of a public-house, with a mug of beer 
before him. The fellow made no effort to move, but he had 
evidently seen them, and watched them narrowly. 

" What the deuce is he doing there ? " asked George, 
drawing away Diana in the direction of the station, " I had 
imagined that he had gone back to Paris, to tell his mistress 
the result of his investigations." 

" Then you think that it is she who has set him to find 
out our whereabouts ! " asked Diana with a laugh. " If you 
will take the trouble to reason out the matter, you will agree 
that there is not a grain of common sense in your idea. I 
daresay the foolish old woman deplores your absence, and 
burns with the desire to see you again, but she would hardly 
send a man who is her lover to look after you. This fine- 
looking coachman has come to look after you on his own 
account. He is jealous of you, and is afraid that you will 
appear again at his lady's house, and cut him out ; and I 
would not mind wagering that he is delighted to find that 
you are not living alone, as he will now feel more secure for 
the future, and I am charmed that he has seen me leaning 
on your arm." 

"He must know now for certain that he- need not fear me 
as a rival. But he will certainly tell Mme. M. Saint Senier 
that we are living together, if it was only for the sake of 
annoying her." 

" That is far from unlikely, but I laugh at that. If she 
does not know it to-day, she will on Sunday, when she will 
see me in your carriage at Longchamps. On that day we 
shall for the first time unfurl our flag of defiance before the 
armies of the fools and prudes, and I am only too anxious 
to show a bold front to the enemy." 

" And I, too," exclaimed George, boldly. 

" We will go in a victoria, so that all the world may see 
us," continued Diana, " in a close carriage it would seem as 
if we were hiding ourselves. My toilet, I promise you, will 



96 Fickle Heart 

attract attention, for soldiers always -wear full dress when 
they go into action. We have, however, no time to lose in 
preparing for the grand day. I shall summon my dress- 
maker, and I hope that by to-morrow the carriages will be 
in the coachhouse. Will Domingo be able to do all the 
work?" 

" I shall engage a groom, and look after him myself." 
" That will be all right," cried Diana ; " and now go, for 
see, the train is coming in. Remember, I expect you this 
evening." 

George kissed her hand, and sprang up the staircase that 
leads to the station, and Mile. Ganges, having seen the 
train off, turned to depart. She did not intend to return to 
the villa, where she would be alone for the first time for six 
weeks. She felt that she needed a walk, and desired to 
breathe the soft breezes of the spring, and to inhale the 
sweet perfumes of the new leaves. The Bois was close at 
hand, and the fancy seized on her to walk in it for a couple 
of hours, to pass away a portion of the time during George's 
absence. 

The coachman of the Countess was still in the same spot, 
and was so occupied in lighting his pipe, that he did not see 
her pass. 

She hastily passed through the Auteuil gate, and plunged 
into the nearest shrubbery, delighted at not being followed 
by this unpleasant individual. The portion of the Bois in 
which she found herself, was one which is hardly ever 
frequented except upon days when there are hurdle races 
or steeple chases. The Steeple Chase Club has a course of 
its own here, in which are walls, ditches, and fences of every 
kind that may prove obstacles to the riders. The brook, into 
which many a jockey and his horse have fallen, flows from 
the Lake of Auteuil, so dear to the nursemaids of some years 
ago, and these jumping contests draw together nearly as 
many spectators as the great meetings of Longcbamps ; but 
on other days the place is almost entirely deserted. The 
carriages that move slowly round the lakes, and the elegant 
riders that frequent the Allege des Poteaux, seldom come as 
far as this. 

Diana enjoyed this solitude. She walked deliberately 
into one of the pathways which ran round the lake, the 
banks of which _had been transformed into carefully-kept 
lawns, whilst here and there benches were placed upon 
which the good citizens of the neighbourhood, and occa- 
sionally a stray pair of lovers were accustomed to take their 
rest. Upon this day the benches were all unoccupied, and 
Diana was about to pick out one to repose upon, when she, 



Carte and Tierce 97 

heard the sound of a carriage approaching along the road 
which leads from the fortifications. By the creaking of the 
wheels she knew at once that it was a hack-cab, and think- 
ing that her solitude was about to be disturbed by a party 
of clerks and shop-girls, who had come to enjoy a breakfast 
in the open air, she determined to continue her walk. But 
instead of the riotous band that she had expected to meet, 
she saw a woman dressed in black appear at the other end 
of the lake ; she was thickly veiled, and was walking with 
hurried steps. She seemed to be seeking for some one, and 
her figure and appearance caused a vague feeling of recog- 
nition in the bosom of Mile, de Ganges, as she drew on one 
side to permit her to pass. 

Diana had not anticipated the meeting that was about to 
take place. "When three paces only separated them the 
unknown stopped short, and after a moment's hesitation 
raised her veil, and said, " You, here ! " 

"Valentine !" exclaimed Mile, de Ganges, and she seized 
Mme. de Sartilly's two hands, who after a brief resistance 
yielded to her, and pressed them warmly in return. " How 
happy I am to meet you," continued Diana. " I was about 
to write to you." 

" Why have you not done so sooner, and I might then 
have replied to the calumnies which they are heaping on 
you ? " 

" Calumnies, no, they are not calumnies ; I have a lover 
and I am living with him. You must have known that, for 
you surely received the letter that I sent you the day I 
quitted your house." 

" I received it, but I hesitated to believe it. It is true 
then, and you fled with " 

" With the man who risked his life to save your reputation. 
I found him wounded, and bleeding, stretched on the snow- 
covered ground of your garden. I refused to yield him up 
to your husband's vengeance, when he came to my room and 
ordered me to do so. Now I love him, and do not desire to 
conceal my love." 

" Can it be you, who are speaking to me — you, the com- 
panion of my childhood 1 " 

" Fickle Heart has changed her nature. Why should I 
not tell you so 1 And can you reproach me for loving, when 
you love your husband ? " The cheek of the Countess grew 
pale, the blow had struck home. " Listen to me, Valentine, 
you may blame me, but you must allow that I have the 
virtue of openness. I could, like many others, have concealed 
the fact of my having a lover ; but I scorned to imitate the 
vile hypocrisies of the world of society. Let it condemn me ! 



98 FicMe Heart 

I care little for its verdict, but I do care for your esteem, 
and I will prove to you that, if I have altered my mode of 
life, mercenary motives have nothing to do with the step that 
I have taken. I should have given myself to George had he 
been the poorest of the poor, and I will never accept the 
smallest portion of his fortune : Gontran de Sartilly when 
you selected him, was a ruined man " 

" But he married me," interposed Valentine quickly. 

" Yes, to your misfortune, but you loved him so passion- 
ately, that had you not been his wife, you would have 
become his mistress ; and do you dare to tell me now, that 
you do not regret having taken him for a husband, or rather 
for a master 1" 

" Never, and yet I have suffered much." 

" Ah ! you confess it, this fine nobleman tortures you ? " 
then as the Countess was about to protest, she added, " Do not 
deny it, I know it for a fact." 

Mme. de Sartilly began to shed tears, and when Diana 
perceived it she said in gentler accents : " I do not wish to 
intensify your sorrow. I wish to protect you. Do not 
repulse my offer of assistance, however guilty I may seem 
in your eyes, and tell me all your troubles, I entreat you." 

" What good would that do ? " murmured Valentine. 

"Will it not render them easier to bear; confidence 
soothes the wounded spirit. Open your heart to me as you 
opened it in days gone by at our school, when we had no 
secrets one from the other. I have not changed from that 
time, since I come to you and confess my fault, if a fault 
it is." 

" No," exclaimed Valentine, raising her head, "I must not 
be detained, I have not an instant to lose." 

"What do you mean'? — and tell me why have you 
come here alone in a cab." 

"Gontran has been challenged, he is going to fight a duel 
this morning." 

" Where ! " 

"On the racecourse at Auteuil." 

"And you are looking for him to prevent the duel ?" 

"Or to die, if he. s killed. Let me go, it is the hour, 
twelve o'clock. I fear that I shall arrive too late." 

" Arrive where ? For this is the course," returned Mile., 
de Ganges pointing it out to her friend. 

Diana's finger indicated a large meadow, which began 
from the thickets planted round the lake, and stretched 
away out of sight forming one immense field full of little 
rises and declivities, and studded here and there with clumps 
of trees. Not a soul was to be seen on the wide expanse 



Carte and Tierce 99 

of turf, ami the Stands, which stood sonio hundred yards 
away from the water and which on race days were tilled 
with a seething tumultuous crowd, were now absolutely 
empty. 

'• Heaven be praised, I am in time," murmured Valentine, 
" but by which road will they come 1 " 

" r>y the same one that you have," answered Mile, de 
Oanges, gazing with compassion on her unhappy friend. 
'' You can wait for them here, if you persist in your design ; 
but you will, I am sure, permit me to demonstrate to you 
how extravagant it is. You cannot hinder a man from 
righting. Even if you manage to stop this meeting, you will 
gain nothing by it, for the duel will only be put off until the 
next day, and your interference will but serve to increase 
your husband's anger against you, that husband whom you 
love so much, for he will never forgive you for making him 
appear ridiculous by flinging yourself between him and his 
adversary.'' 

" I shall know at least if he survives the encounter." 
" And you will offer up prayers that he may return safe 
and unhurt. My poor friend, will you never cure yourself 
of this fatal love for a man utterly unworthy of you. But 
who is he going to tight with, and for what reason 'I " 
" I do not know." 

" And yet you know that he is going to fight — I 
cannot understand it. Did M. de Sarti.Uy tell you of this 
duel ! " 

" He ! oh, no." 
" Who was it, then ? " 

"It was Lisa, my former maid, who has remained faithful 
to me. Gontran had dismissed her, but she took a lodging 
opposite our house and found means to visit me secretly by 

night. C !on trail forbade it, but " 

" I suppose he also forbade you to write to me, since you 
never answered my letter ? " 

" Yes, and may heaven grant that he may never learn that 
I have met you — .Lisa knew of the duel through his 
valet Francis." 
" A villain." 

"He knew that Gontran was going to fight some one, 
whose name Francis did not know, and that his seconds were 
M. de Mussidan and M. de Saint Senier." 
" A nice choice indeed." 
" They were to tight to-day at twelve." 
<: Theu they are late, or else the duel has been put off. 
Whichever it may be, I hope that you vvill remain with me, 
and I will endeavour to console you ; then the delay will be 



100 Fickle Heart 

less hard to bear. From where we stand we shall be able 
to see them coming, for this spot commands the country all 
round us." Mile, de Ganges did not say all she knew; she 
had read in the papers of duels taking place in rear of the 
Stands, and she thought that even now the Count de 
Sartilly might be standing sword in hand behind one of these 
out of sight of his wife, who little thought that he was 
risking his life so close to her. But she took care not to say 
a word of this, and inwardly hoped that Gontran might 
succumb, but she did not consider this likely, for she knew 
that he was a perfect master of his weapon. She would not 
have felt so comfortable had George Cezambre been the 
Count's opponent, but happily George was in Paris, far from 
the spot where Gontran was fighting. 

" You have broken off entirely with your husband 1 " 
said she, more to occupy Mme. de Sartilly, than to learn the 
secrets of the unhappy household, of which she guessed, 
although she did not know the veritable position. Diana was 
ignorant of the attempted loan, and she still believed that 
Gontran, in order to tyrannise over his wife, used as a pretext 
the pistol shots which had been fired some six weeks 
before. 

" Broken to such a degree that he never enters my room,'' 
murmured Valentine. 

"He came there, however, upon that memorable night in 
which he surprised George." 

" Yes, and he remained there, but I have not seen him 
since alone. I only see him when it pleases him to take me 
out into society, for outwardly nothing is changed, and when 
I am forced to accompany him to a ball it is an additional 
punishment for me." 

" It has been like that for more than a year. Was it a 
passing fancy then that brought him back to you." 

" A fancy, or a deep calculation. He wanted to borrow 
money from my father." 

" And he entrusted the negotiation to you, and you did 
not succeed. Now I begin to understand." 

" He never forgave me for not having succeeded, and 
heaven only knows how repugnant it was to my feelings 
to make the attempt, for I foresaw that my father would 
remain deaf to my praj'ers." 

" He did well not to yield. Your husband would bring 
him to beggary ; and so, because your father would not lend 
him money, he revenges himself upon you 1 " 

" Yes, most cruelly." 

" But what does he do ? He does not maltreat you 
physically, I hope." 



Carte and Tierce 101 

" He lias never been more gentle and considerate. He 
sends the servants to me every morning to take 'my orders 
for the day, he never enters my apartments, without first 
in pming if I will receive him, but we live quite apart, and 
his polite contempt is breaking my heart. I had sooner 
that he would beat me." 

" Ah," murmured Diana. " You are not cured, and you 
never will be. I have no remedy for an evil that has eaten 
into your blood. But I can at least defend you against your 
husband. I can guess that his conduct has some hidden end, 
and that he has reasons for treating you with courtesy that 
I do not yet see, but some day he will throw aside the mask, 
and then " 

" My life is threatened," concluded Mme. de Sartilly, " but 
what does that matter, I care nothing for my life." 

" But I do not wish that yon should die, and in order to 
protect you I must know everything. What did he want to 
do with the money that he tried to get from your father." 

" He wished to run horses. He has gone into partnership 
with M. de Saint Senier ; they have started their stable and 
have horses entered for the present racing season." 

"Then he has managed to get funds but how? 

That old miser, Saint Senier, has not advanced them to him. 
He must have gone to some money-lender. I hope that you 
signed nothing ? " 

" He did not even ask me to do so." 

" That is fortunate," answered Mile, de Ganges, with a 
smile, " I suppose that he calculates on the money that he 
will make on the races, but he will not do so, for Providence 
would never permit it ; but when the day for payment comes, 
some fresh attack will be made on you." 

" I am resigned — and I know that my father will remain 
inflexible should Gontran again address himself to him." 

" Do you still see your father 1 " 

"Yes, but secretly." 

" What, has your husband forbidden you to see him 1 " 

" Yes, and even to go to him ; but for that matter my father 
would not set foot in our house. We meet in the Pare 
Monceaux. I write to him, Lisa takes him my letters, and 
he keeps the appointments I make." 

" And does he suffer his daughter to live in such a state of 
slavery ? " 

" He has entreated me to go and live with him, and to sue 
for a divorce, but I have refused to do so." 

" Oh, most certainly Gontran has bewitched you. What 
can be done to break the spell. Has jealousy any power 
over you 1 Yes, it must have, as you adore him : no love 



102 Fickle Heart 

without jealousy. Well, suppose I show you your husband 
as he is, if I tell you that he deceives you, if I tell you that 
he proposed to me to become his mistress '? " 

" Tell me nothing, I wish to know nothing. I suffer enough 
already in living the life I lead, but I do not pity myself. Do 
not try to advise me. I will not listen to you, leave me alone 
to seek for Gontran ; the time that was fixed for the duel has 
passed, perhaps he is fighting close here. They told me that 
it was to be on the racecourse, but that extends a long way. 
No doubt the road that I took to come here was not the 
shortest, so I will go on." 

" I hope you do not intend to go round the course in your 
cab." 

" No, I will go on foot." 

" Not without me. I will not leave you to find your wayalone 
about all these damp fields, and if you will trust to me, we 
will first follow this road that comes out by the big cedar 
near the Grand Stand." 

" The Stands ? yes, that was where they were going to fight. 
Now I recollect last year to have read of a duel which took 
place there. Remain here, or follow me at a distance. Ob, 
if Gontran were only to see you ! " 

" Yes, I know what you mean ! he has forbidden you to 
speak to me, but he will not see me, for should I catch a 
glimpse of him, I will go away. I have no desire to be a 
party to your explanation with him, but if anything has 
happened to him, you will be glad enough to have me by 
your side.'' 

" Come then, if you must," exclaimed Valentine, and she 
hurried down the road, closely followed by Diana, who was 
determined not to leave her friend, should she even meet 
Gontran face to face. The cab in which the Countess had 
come, remained stationary in the road to the fortifications, 
The path that led to the cedar was not a long one, and they 
met no persons as they hurried along it. " I can see carriages 
over there by the stands," observed Diana. 

'' The carriages in which they have come," murmured 
"Valentine, "they are waiting for them, therefore the duel is 
not yet over." 

" There is a cab, and a private carriage." 

" Yes, and I think that the private carriage is Gontran 's, 
but who can he have fought with ? " 

" Ah, here are those gentlemen coming towards the cab, 
one of them is wounded and is leaning on "the shoulder of the 
others, and it seems to me that he has his arm in a sling. 
At this distance I cannot see bis face, but I am sure that it is 
not your husband." 



Carte and Tierce 103 

" No, no, it is not he," exclaimed Valentine. 

"And there is nothing to prove that he has been fighting 
with M. de Sartilly," added Mile, de Ganges, whose object 
was to persuade Valentine to retrace her steps. 

" On the contrary all goes to prove that he has been 
wounded by Gontran, for he was to fight this morning, and 
it is not likely another duel should have been fought at the 
same time and place." 

" Well, then," said Diana, " your mind is set at rest about 
your husband, as it is his antagonist that has been wounded, 
so let us get away." 

" No, not yet, Gontran is perhaps also wounded, or killed." 

" Do you think that they have run on to each other's 
swords. You give too loose a rein to your imagination. Such 
things only happen in novels, when the author not knowing 
how to get rid of his characters invents some unlikely 
finale." 

Valentine paid no heed to the words of her friend, but fol- 
lowed with her eyes the cab as it drove off in the direction of 
the cedar, carrying away the conquered man, and his seconds. 
The carriage, however, had not moved, nor did the other party 
put in an appearance. What could they be doing behind the 
Stand when the affair was finished. It was not the custom 
to remain chatting upon the spot where the duel had taken 
place. And this delay almost warranted the Countess in be- 
lieving that something had happened to her husband. 
"Leave me," said she abruptly, "if you are afraid of his 
seeing you ; I must go and learn my fate," and she moved 
forward. Diana hesitated for an instant, but made up her 
mind directly. " I cannot abandon her," thought she. "And 
after all, what do I care if I do meet this man. He will see 
me on Sunday at the races. I had just as soon that he should 
see meat once." She soon caught up Valentine, who seemed to 
be almost out of her mind, but they walked side by side in 
silence. They were just turning the corner of the Grand 
Stand, when Mme. de Sartilly stopped short. The sound of 
voices struck on her ear : one was that of her husband, alter- 
nating with another which was not so familiar to her, but 
whose accents she soon recognised. 

" I think that I have given him a sufficient lesson," observed 
Gontran. 

" Three inches of steel in the shoulder ; he will be laid up for 
three weeks, exactly like that insolent Colonel Tarsac whom 
I had the pleasure of pricking in your presence some two 
months ago." This reply was made in the tones of M. de 
Saint Senier, who continued : " And now that you have 
corrected this gentleman, will you have the goodness to tell 



104 Mckle Heart 

me why you provoked him, for deuce take me if I know, 
though I consented to act as your second. You said nothing 
of your motives to me, nor was he any more communicative 
when I called upon him on your behalf. When I went I 
found a man buttoned up to the chin. He did not belong to 
the same sphere as ourselves, but I must allow that he was 
most courteous, and behaved very well during the encounter, 
and though he has not your skill, yet he knows how to handle 
a sword." 

" He nearly got home twice." 

"I saw he did ; he had a certain way of disengaging that 
gave me the cold shivers ; had you not come to the parry sharp, 
he would have spitted you to a moral. But I again ask you 
in what way he offended you, and how you became acquainted 
with this civil engineer, who belongs to no club, and does 
not, I expect, go into society ? " 

" I have disliked him for a long time." 

" I know that ; the Marquis de Muire recommended him to 
me and I was going to employ him to bore our Artesian wells 
at Mortcerf, when you asked me to have nothing to do with 
him. Then I engaged someone else, and I heard no more of 
this M. Trevieres until I waited upon him as your second." 

" My dear fellow," returned Gontran, " I beg that you will 
dispense with my replying to you regarding the cause of our 
quarrel. Consider, if you like, that this gentleman has spoken 
about me in a way that I would not tolerate, any more than 
you cared to submit to Colonel Tarsac's jeers." 

" Oh ; very good, I understand, and quite approve of your 
conduct. We live in days when gentlemen must not per- 
mit outsiders to mix in their affairs. What I did on 
account of my wife, you may have done for some other rea- 
son, for the behaviour of yours is irreproachable." 

The Countess and her friend did not lose a word of this 
dialogue. Diana had grasped Valentine's hand, and tried to 
draw her away : but Valentine resisted. Astonishment and 
an inexplicable feeling of anguish rooted her to the spot. 
Henry Trevieres had been fighting on her account, and she 
knew no more than M. Saint Senier, the cause of the quarrel, 
which might have had a tragic conclusion. She had almost 
forgotten her father's friend, though she had agreed to 
accept him as her champion, when he had offered to come 
to her assistance, should she have need of his aid. But since 
their short conversation on the pavement of the B,ue de la 
Neva, she had never summoned him, and she knew no rea- 
son why he should have sought a quarrel with her husband. 
She scarcely even pitied him for having been wounded by 
the man she persisted in loving. 



Carte and Tierce 105 

Mile, de Ganges guessed what was passing in the bosom 
of her unfortunate friend, and foresaw what was about to 
happen. The time for flight had passed. The voices came 
nearer, and a meeting with the speakers was inevitable ; but 
she did not for a moment think of retreating. She preferred 
rather to meet the Count face to face, than to desert his wife. 
She even hoped that by remaining she might divert the 
storm from Valentine's head to her own, and she prepared 
bravely to meet the shock. It came soon enon gh. Saint Senier 
first made his appearance closely followed by Gontran, who 
on turning the corner found himself face to face with his 
wife. There was a momentary pause on both sides. When 
two hostile advanced guards meet in a narrow road, they 
hesitate for a few seconds before rushing in with the 
bayonet. Mile, de Ganges was the first to commence the 
attack. "Gentlemen," said she, with perfect coolness, "I 
just now met Mme. de Sartilly who was in search of her 
husband. She had learned that he was going to fight. I 
accompanied her thus far, and like her, I am delighted to 
find that the encounter has ended without any serious result." 

Saint Senier gazed on Diana with marked interest. He 
lived so near the Sartillys that he had often seen her, but 
never so closely as to-day, and he inspected her with a critical 
eye. 

Gontran gazed on her too ; but he also cast a glance on 
Valentine which froze her heart with dread. But he soon 
resumed the mastery over himself, and put on the serious and 
injured expression of a husband whose wife has acted in a 
most imprudent manner. 

" Did you not understand that this was no place for you 1" 
asked he with affected gentleness. 

"I heard that you were about to risk your life," stam- 
mered Mme. de Sartilly, "and had I remained at home I 
should have died of suspense." 

"And being unable to endure it you hastened here. I 
am not, of course, angry with you for this evidence of 
affection ; but I cannot refrain from telling you that had you 
arrived whilst we were fighting you might have placed me 
in a most ridiculous position in the eyes of my adversary. 
My seconds and his might have thought that you had come 
here out of anxiety for him." 

This nasty hint made poor Valentine's cheek grow pale, 
but she had no strength left to contradict him. " You know 
very well that that is false," exclaimed Mile, de Ganges pas- 
sionately, " and you ought to be grateful to her instead of 
accusing her." 

" I am grateful to you, too, mademoiselle," returned Gontran 



106 Fickle Heart 

with an equivocal smile, " for having accompanied her thus 
far, and I am happy to see that in leaving our house you have 
not entirely forgotten us all." 

"I only think of the friend of my childhood," answered 
Diana , drily. 

" Permit me then to have a better memory," replied the 
Count in a tone full of double meaning. "And now, my 
dear," he added, addressing his wife, " you will, I hope, come 
home with me. How did you get here V 

" I took a cab " 

" Which is in the road to the fortifications," interrupted 
Diana. " I will undertake to dismiss it. I was here by mere 
chance when Valentine got out of it, and I shall know the 
coachman again." 

" I will escort you there, mademoiselle," said Saint Senier, 
quickly, who admired Diana immensely. 

" Thank you, sir, but I require no escort." 

' ' Besides, my dear fellow," added Sartilly, " here is your 
carriage waiting, and Alfred de Mussidan, who has taken 
charge of the swords, counts on you to take him home." 

Saint Senier, who had served his apprenticeship in intrigue, 
understood at once that Gontran had some ulterior views 
regarding his wife's former companion, and immediately 
yielded to the hint that he had received. 

" And so," thought he, " you have an eye on that magnifi- 
cent creature. However, this is not the moment to enter 
the lists with you ; but I shall find her again, for she is 
bound to be in this neighbourhood." The carriages came up. 
Saint Senier hurried into his, after having raised Ins hat to 
the ladies, and shaken Sartilly by the hand. Valentine 
remained standing in the road between her husband and her 
friend, suffering a strange kind of martyrdom. She felt that 
her husband was only taking her away to make her endure 
some sort of punishment for her rash proceeding, and that his 
affected kindness was a mere farce, and that the only ones 
who really loved her were Diana and Henri Treviures, who 
had just shed his blood for her ; whilst at the same time she 
did not dare to express any pity for the wounded man, or 
throw herself into the arms of her friend. The Count opened 
the door of the carriage, and after handing in his wife took 
his place by her side, not without having cast a meaning 
glance at the beautiful auburn-haired woman with the 
emerald eyes. 

" That carriage, with its armorial bearings, which is carry- 
in g away Valentine, is like the tumbrel that carries the 
criminal to the scaffold," murmured Mile, de Ganges ; "that 
man will kill my unhappy friend if I do not intervene ; but 



On the Course. 107 

I will know what he is plotting against her, even if I have to 
let him make love to me in order to learn it. I must also see 
M. Trevieres, for he will be a valuable ally, and George will 
let me do as I like when I tell him all." 



CHAPTER XIV 

ON THE COURSE. — PART I 

It was Sunday. — The first Sunday of the Longchamps races, 
and anyone who hadiived in the days of the late Paul de Kock 
would never recognise Paris as it now is. Where are the 
worthy shopkeepers who used to go out to picnic on the 
grass of the Pros Saint Gervais ? Where are the clerks and 
shop-girls who climbed the hills of Eomainviile to pluck the 
lilacs and seek for the nuts ? The beautiful woods, so fondly 
appreciated by lovers, have disappeared to make room for a 
fort bristling with cannon. Now-a-days shopkeepers take a 
cab, and are driven about the Champs Elysees ; the counter- 
jumpers club together to put a louis on ahorse, and the shop- 
girls, if they are pretty, appear on the course iu hired vic- 
torias. The city is deserted. Parisians of both sexes, and of 
all classes, walk or drive to the Bois de Boulogne. If you 
take a bird's-eye view, the foot passengers look like a colony 
of migrating ants, marching in close column, whilst the car- 
riages follow after in one endless line, raising clouds of dust. 
Hardly can the wide-spreading lawn of Longchamps contain 
the vast concourse that throngs thither to witness the sport. 
The grass disappears beneath the feet of the multitude, and 
the trees which surround the course bear bunches of human 
fruit. By the side of the ropes which mark out the course 
are the long lines of glittering vehicles, massed together like 
vessels in the harbour of Havre. 

There, mingled together in one conglomeration, are the 
carriages of ladies of rank, covered with armorial bearings, 
the coquettish victorias of the best-known of the irregular 
brigade, and the four-in-hands of the pillars of the sporting 
world, with their long white reins. 

The feminine element predominates in the carriages. 
The men only come for the horses, and wander unhappily 
about amongst the carriages, the wheels of which are locked 
closely together. There is an immense crowd round the 
weighing-place, and ladies can hardly pass there unless on 
the arm of an experienced guide. 

The middle-classes occupy the graduated seats of the stands, 
which with the variously-tinted parasols look like one vast 



108 Fickle Heart 

hill covered with flowers and poppies. The bookmakers 
are at their posts supported by their clerks, pencil and book 
in their hands, and it is a wonderful sight to see them in 
the short intervals between the races handle thousands, and 
even millions of francs with astounding precision and 
rapidity, and which would make clerks in a banking-house 
open their eyes. They will in less than a minute book bets 
on different horses to the extent of three or four thousand 
louis, in different amounts. Their books are divided into 
columns, and immediately a start is made a bookmaker who 
understands his business knows to a louis what the victory 
of any horse which he has laid against will cost him, and 
what sum he will gain by the field, that is to say, by any of 
the other horses winning. There are also some hoohmakeresses, 
if it is permitted to coin a word, who have little of their sex 
about them except their costume : these carry a huge bag 
slung across their shoulders, boots with thick soles resembl- 
ing a laundress' iron. They come on the course in an 
English waggonette with their assistants, who resemble them 
greatly in manner and appearance. They stand under 
enormous umbrellas, and shout in hoarse voices, " Look at 
our prices, gentlemen." 

There are numerous women who bet. The old stagers 
who endeavour to obtain from their lovers useful tips about 
the horses that have been entered, and the neophytes who try 
to get their friends to put something on for them. There 
are some who occupy themselves very little about the horses, 
but take a good deal of interest in the riders, whom they 
follow everywhere, even into the taverns, and pay by caresses 
for a hint more or less valuable regarding the probable 
winners. 

The first race is over, and the second is about to be run. 
A long-legged fellow dressed in regular English style passes 
rapidly along crying out " seven." This means that out of 
the ten horses entered, seven will run, and he gives out this 
information which he has learned in the weighing-house, for 
the benefit of the bookmakers so that they may be thoroughly 
posted up to begin their business. This man in sporting 
slang is termed an " all right," because after the race has been 
run , he assists in the weighing-house, and when the weight 
of the winning jockey has been ascertained to be correct, he 
will cry out with all the force of his lungs the sacramental 
words " all right " to the bookmakers, who will then pay up 
what they may have lost. 

George Cezambre had never found himself at such a scene 
before, and he understood very little of what was going on 
under his eyes. The spectacle was a dazzling one, but all 



On the Course. 109 

these people who appeared so wildly excited, seemed to him 
to be mere madmen, and Diana laughed at the unconcealed 
surprise of her young lover. They had driven to the course 
in a very handsome victoria, made by one of the best 
Parisian builders, drawn by a high-actioned horse, driven by 
Domingo in a handsome livery. Having come early, they 
had secured a place next to the course, facing the stand, and 
not far from the winning post, but they were entirely 
blocked in by the other carriages which formed up around 
them, and they had not yet ventured on foot into this laby- 
rinth. But Diana did not intend to remain there all day; 
she wished to show herself upon her lover's arm, so that no 
one might be ignorant that she was living with him. She 
wished to brave both Madame de Saint Senier, and Gontran 
de Sartilly, and to laugh at his partner if he should attempt 
to make love to her, as she believed he would certainly do 
after their meeting on the racecourse at Auteuil. But what 
she desired above anything was to see Valentine, to speak to 
her, and to ask her how her husband had treated her and to 
offer to defend her. She did not for a moment doubt but 
that the husband had punished his wife by compelling her 
to come with him to the races, and she felt sure that after 
he had once got her there he would leave her alone for the 
allurements of the betting ring, and therefore she hoped to 
see her alone. The question to be solved was as to where 
Gontran had left her. In his fine landau, no doubt, but how 
to find it out in this vast collection of equipages. Then if 
the Count had taken his wife into the weighing enclosure, 
Diana would be unable to seek her there, for that was for- 
bidden ground to her, now that she had assumed the position 
that she had. George would not for a moment have hesitated 
to escort her there, but then George who had only recently 
arrived in Paris, was not a member of any club, and did not 
possess the necessary ticket, which gives the right of entrance 
to this reserved enclosure. 

He was there close to her, her beloved George, standing 
up in the carriage, and watching a race which had just com- 
menced, though he took but little interest in it. Diana 
might well be proud of him, for the eyes of all the women 
were on him, but these women were unknown to Diana, 
who only wished Mme. de Saint Senier to see him, as she 
would almost expire with rage when she caught sight of him 
with her. 

But this truly feminine sentiment did not cause her to 
forget Mme. de Sartilly, and she determined to make a bold 
attempt. When she had returned from her walk by the Lake 
of Auteuil ;she had told George everything, and had confided 



110 Fickle Heart 

to him her fears regarding Valentine, the only woman of 
whom she was not jealous. George had seen sufficient of her 
to recognise her again, and Diana's idea was to send him in 
search of her. " Go and look for her, I beg of you," said she, 
after she had explained to him her. reasons for desiring to 
come across the Countess. "You will get through this 
collection of carriages more easily than I shall, and I feel 
sure that she is here. As soon as you have found her you 
will come back to me, and will take me to her carriage, where 
you will leave me. Your presence would only embarrass us, 
and I am sure you do not want that to happen. Will you 
do that for me, my George 1 " 

"I will do anything for you," answered George, " only I 
am afraid of losing myself." 

" Come where you see my white plume wave,'' exclaimed 
Diana, gaily putting up her crape parasol trimmed with rows 
of lace. " Whatever may happen I shall not move from here, 
and if you meet with Mme. de Saint Senier, I shall expect 
you not to allow her to carry you off." 

George smiled, sprang out of the victoria, and threw him- 
self boldly into the mass of vehicles, through which he had 
great difficulty in making his way, and moved off in the 
direction of the winning post, determining to scrutinise 
closely the triple rank of carriages, and then to return the 
way he had come. The race had just been run, the number 
of the winner had been put up, and the crowd had invaded 
the course, whilst those who had been lucky in their bets 
were gathering round the bookmakers to draw their money. 
George was soon swept away by the current, and he made 
vain efforts to disengage himself when he was thrust against 
a gentleman, who, seizing him familiarly by the arm, ex- 
claimed, " Do yon know, young man, that I have a bone to 
pick with you ? Here you are consigned to me by one of my 
old friends from Mauritius. You call on me ; I and my wife 
receive you with open arms ; Avhen, presto, you are gone, and 
for two whole months you show no signs of life. 1 can tell 
you that Mine, de Saint Senier will i;ive it you hot." 

"Pardon me," stammered George, who would willingly 
have consigned to the tiend the husband of Mme. de Saint 

Senier, " but now I am living a very retired life " 

" Good, I know," interrupted Saint Senier with a loud 
laugh. " You left Paris to build your nest in the woods, and 
I congratulate you on your taste. Mile, de Ganges is 
charming. But that is no reason for you to hide yourself — 
quite the contrary. And I see with much pleasure that you 
have at last decided to emerge from your retirement, and to 
take her about with you, for I suppose that she is here ? " 



On the Course. Ill 

George fell at once from the clouds, and did not know 
what to say to this elderly gentleman, who ought certainly to 
have given him better advice, yet who congratulated him 
with having taken a mistress, and counselled him to show 
himself openly with her ; but he was destined to be still more 
astonished. 

" My dear boy," continued the cynical Viscount, " you are 
happy in being young, and I can, without hurting your 
feelings, tell you that you are deficient in experience. You 
are travelling in strange lands, and you want a guide. 
Permit me to pilot you through the Parisian world into 
which you have just made your entry. I know all its reefs 
and quicksands, and will show you how to avoid them. The 
most dangerous of them is solitude, more especially when one 
is, like you are, destined to enter into the future possession 
of an immense fortune. ' Nobility has its duties,' as the 
proverb says well. Money has its responsibilities also. You 
must live according to your position. You must have 
carriages and horses, so that you may not be compelled to 
take your mistress about in a cab " 

" I have two horses and a couple of carriages," answered 
George, partly to vindicate himself, and' partly to get rid of 
an adviser whose counsels he did not require. 

" Very good,' ; exclaimed Saint Senier ; " that is a good 
beginning, and I am sure that Mile, de Ganges must approve 
of it. But you must not stop there. I am sure you will not 
be contented with living in a style that any petty individual 
heir could aspire to. You must have your own rooms, and 
belong to a club. I will put you up at an excellent one." 

" I thank you much, but I have no taste for club life." 

"Ah, be frank, dear boy, and say at once that you are 
afraid of displeasing your mistress. I can well understand 
that, and she is worth the trouble of pleasing. But let me 
re-assure you. She may complain a little at first, but she will 
thank you afterwards for having been firm, for she has 
sufficient sense to know that the most passionate love cannot, 
withstand a life spent entirely together, and that some little 
innocent distractions serve to make it more enduring. Love 
grows much stronger when you are not together every hour 
in the day, and the pleasure of meeting again is enhanced by 
an occasional short separation. If I never kept away from 
home I should have quarrelled with my wife ten years ago." 

George hardly knew whether to laugh or to be angry at 
this last speech, which he looked upon as the height of im- 
pudence on the part of his new friend, who continued to keep 
a tight bold of his arm, and kept up the conversation with 
the utmost coolness. 



112 Fickle Heart 

" Very well then, that is all settled. I will put you up at 
my club, and as you know no one I will get some one to 
second you — Count Gontran de Sartilly, my friend and 
partner." 

George was at first inclined to decline this proposal point 
blank, but then he reflected that in order to do it he would 
be compelled to explain to M. de Saint Senier the exact 
position in which he stood with regard to M. de Sartilly, and 
to make matters perfectly clear he would have to begin at 
the very commencement of the incident, and he felt unwilling 
to denounce his wife's conduct to the Count. George there- 
fore preferred to remain silent, and sought for some pretext 
to release himself from his tormentor. He remembered that 
Diana was waiting for him, and that he could not continue 
his search for Mme. de Sartilly without first getting rid of 
M. de Saint; Senier. But the bore still clung to him with 
tenaeity. 

" You will get in without a black ball," continued he," and 
you will always find a good game to cut into." 

" I care very little for play," muttered George. 

" All the better for you ; but surely you are fond of 
horses ? " 

" Passionately. I intend to ride every day." 

" Very good ; and in the meantime, why do you not take 
some interest in to-day's racing 1 Bet, my dear fellow, 
and if you will follow my tips you will bet on a certainty." 

" I know nothing about betting." 

" I will explain the whole mystery of it to you in a quarter 
of an hour, and you will know as much of it as I do. I am 
just now going to square up my account on the last race with 
the bookmaker, with whom I always do business. Come 
with me, and profit by my example. I must really initiate 
you into the secrets of the turf by making you win some- 
thing, and after that I will restore you to liberty." 

The promise contained in the last few words decided 
George, who thought that he might be free at the expense of 
a few Avasted minutes and louis, and he vowed that he would 
take care not to fall again into the clutches of the Viscount. 
He therefore permitted himself to be led off into the heart of 
the crowd which was collecting round the bookmakers. 

There are various classes of bookmakers. Some of them, 
but these are in the minority, are mere welshers, and make 
no bones of running off with the cash they have received if 
the result of the race is unfavourable to them. Others, more 
honest, but who have but a moderate capital, leave their 
rings, watches, and other jewellery as security in the hands of 
their more wealthy brethren for money to enable them to 



On the Course 113 

meet their engagements. These men do not come to grief 
unless all the favourites win, and this is a very rare 
occurrence. Then there is the regular established book- 
maker, and of these there are about a dozen, who have an 
office, a dozen clerks, and a well-filled strong box ; and the 
honesty of these men is beyond suspicion. 

The gentlemen who bet heavily, generally do business with 
these men, and to be one of them, and successful, one must 
have the eye of a veteran detective, to catch in a group the 
person who asks for the odds, a fine sense of hearing, to 
detect the amount of the bet, and an extraordinary memory, 
to remember the name of the customer. The bookmaker 
must have a keen eye for any change of the odds amongst 
their neighbours ; one ear for the backer, who comes as 
mysteriously, and puts down a heavy sum on a horse and 
another for his agent of the intelligence department, termed 
in racing phraseology a " tout " who warns him to take all he 
can on the favourite who coughed the night before, and a 
smile for some old customer as he passes by that day without 
doing any business. 

The bookmaker with whom M. de Saint Senier invariably 
transacted his business, was naturally one of those who gave 
liberal odds, and was in addition one of the few who paid up 
with a smile on his face, and who consoled an unlucky 
speculator by a sign of condolence. He saw M. de Saint 
Senier from some distance off, and shot a smile at him which 
seemed to say, " You cannot imagine the delight that I feel 
in paying you," and when the count arrived close to him he 
was almost enthusiastic in his demonstrations of joy, as he 
handed him a packet of ten thousand-franc notes, which the 
lucky winner joyfully showed to George, whispering as he 
did so : " My dear fellow, you see it is all most simple. Do as 
I do. The third race will be run directly. I know the horse 
that must win, he is at twenty to one. Eisk fifty louis on 
him, or if you think that too much, put on twenty-five." 
And as George did not hurry himself to reply, Saint 
Senier said to the bookmaker : " A thousand louis on Black 
Radish, at twenty to one." 

" Very good, my lord," answered the Englishman, without 
flinching, "Will you do it again 1 Four times, six times, if 
you like." 

" No, a thousand louis will do for me," and seizing George 
again by the arm, he drew him out of the crush. "You 
will see presently " said he, " that I know how to spot a 
winner. That fellow is sharp, but so am I, a bit sharper 
perhaps, for I had a tip that he hadn't, and I want you to 
share my luck. I have put you down for fifty louis in my 



114 Fickle Heart 

bet. Don't say a word, it is done, and I am going back to 
the weighing enclosure. I shall look for you after the race. 
I suppose you have come in your new carriage 1 are you near 
the winning, or the starting post 1 " 

" The starting post," answered George. 

" Good, I shall find you then. Give my compliments to 
Mile, de Ganges." And with this unpleasant conclusion M. 
de Saint Senier turned on his heel, leaving George in much 
perplexity, and very angry with himself. He was annoyed 
at having permitted himself to be carried off in this manner, 
instead of having executed the orders of his dear Diana, and 
he asked himself how he was going to acquit himself of the 
mission which he had not yet even begun. 

An immense line of vehicles still remained for him to 
inspect and he deeply regretted the time that he had wasted 
with the officious M. de Saint Senier, for he was afraid that 
Mile, de Ganges would commence to grow impatient. He 
therefore in a rather melancholy mood once more commenced 
his pilgrimage along the line of carriages drawn up close by 
the winning post. He came to the end of the line without 
seeing anything of Mme. de Sartilly, and he was about to 
return, when he noticed a woman standing near him who 
looked at him with a steady, and persistent air. She wa3 
young, and tolerably good-looking, but he could not recollect 
ever having seen her before. That this woman should take 
a delight in gazing on a good-looking young fellow like 
George Cezambre, and* that she did not attempt to conceal 
that she was doing so, was the more surprising because she 
did not appear to belong to either respectable, or fast society. 
She had not the air of a milliner who had deserted the 
workroom for the day, or an adventuress of the lower class. 
Her dress was plain, and in good taste, and she had the wide- 
a-wake air of a lady's-maid out for a holiday. Doubtless 
George would not have noticed her, had she not stared at him 
so boldly, and he was about to pass her by without asking 
her what she wanted, when she came up to him deliberately, 
saying, " I think that I have the honour of speaking to M. 
George Cezambre 1 " 

" Yes, Mademoiselle," returned George. " What do you 
want with me? " 

" I was formerly lady's-maid to Mme. de Sartilly » 

" Indeed ! but I do not know you." 

" That is true, Monsieur has never seen me, but perhaps he 
has heard my name 1 " 

" Whom from 1 " 

" From Mile, de Ganges, who may have mentioned it to 
Monsieur," 



On the Course 115 

George then remembered that Diana after having met the 
Countess near the Lake of Auteuil, had told him of her 
conversation with her friend ; and in this conversation so full 
of melancholy confidences, Lisa's name had been mentioned 
as one who had remained true and faithful to her mistress, 
and who was always ready to aid and defend her. However, 
George asked himself how far he could trust this discharged 
waiting-maid who had accosted him in the middle of the 
racecourse. The intelligent girl read his thoughts at once. 
" I can see very well that Monsieur only puts half faith in me ; 
butl can re-assure Monsieuras to the honesty of my intentions. 
I was still with my mistress when Monsieur was wounded in 
our garden. Later on Madame told me all that had occurred. 
Neither she nor I knew that Monsieur was living with Mile, 
de Ganges. It was Francis the Count's valet who told me." 

Diana's prediction that the coachman of Mme. de Saint 
Senier gossiped with the servants of the Count de Sartilly, 
was thus verified, and George began to believe that Lisa was 
speaking the truth. " The day upon which she told me," 
continued the maid, " Madame had just met Mile, de Ganges 
in the Bois de Boulogue, and as she has no secrets from me,- 
because she knows that I am entirely devoted to her, she did 
not conceal from me what had happened. She might have 
sent me at once to Mademoiselle, for Francis had mentioned 
the situation of the villa, but she did not dare to do so ; but 
since then things have taken place which show that she had 
need of all her friends." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Ah, Monsieur, my mistress's life has become a perfect 
hell. The Count never speaks to her except to overwhelm 
her with reproaches and threats ; he has her watched by an 
old cat, who was formerly in the service of one of his 
mistresses, and whom he has forced Madame to take as her 
maid. This creature is quite capable of poisoning her. 
Madame hardly ever sleeps now, and she is in continual 
fainting fits, and I, I assure you, am not on a bed of roses. I 
cannot break with Francis whom I detest, for if I close my 
door on him, he will go and tell Ms master that I am help- 
ing Madame — but I forgot that when I permitted myself to 
stop Monsieur, it was not to talk of myself." 

"You have not yet told me how you were able to 
recognise me," interrupted George, who had not quite 
renounced his suspicions. 

"That is very simple. Yesterday I went to the Villa 
Montmorency, and hung about the villa, I saw Mademoiselle 
in the balcony, with Monsieur by her side, and when one 
lias once seen Monsieur, it is not easy to forget him." 



116 Fickle Heart 

George remained cold to the compliment of the lady's- 
maid. 

" How did you know that you would meet me here 
to-day ? " questioned he. 

" I guessed that you would come here with Mademoiselle, 
ami I came without warning the Countess. Had I not seen 
you, I should have come this evening to the Villa des 
Primeveres, for it is full time that Mademoiselle de Ganges 
should come to our aid. I had only just arrived here, and 
was looking for her, when I caught sight of you." 

" She is here, but what can she do for Madame de 
Sartilly?" 

" Help me to persuade Madame to seek an asylum with 
her father. I have entreated her to do so, but she will not 
listen to me. And if Mademoiselle does not succeed anv 
better than I do, I will go to M. Vacheron, and tell him 
plainly that his daughter's life is not safe in her husband's 
house, and that he must interfere. But I hope that 
Mademoiselle de Ganges' entreaties will carry the point, 
and that is why I beg that Monsieur will point out to me 
f he spot where Mademoiselle is, so that I may go to her 
at once." 

" Rather tell me where to find Madame de Sartilly, and 
when I shall have done so, I will take Mademoiselle de Ganges 
to her." 

" Yes, that will be the better plan, the Count is busy in 
the ring, but if he saw me with Monsieur he would become 
suspicious directly. My lady is just here alongside of the 
ropes. If Monsieur will come a little way with me, I will 
show her to him at once." 

This was all that George wanted, he gave himself up to 
Lisa's guidance, who took him to the end of the line of 
carriages, and showed him Madame de Sartilly seated in 
a magnificent open carriage. She was quite alone, and no 
one seemed to care to come near her, though the vehicles 
on all sides of her were surrounded by a gay and laughing 
throng. The unhappy have no friends, and the rumour had 
already spread that she- was wretched, her husband had 
almost left her, and that was sufficient for society to slum 
her. George now saw how he had missed her before the 
carriage was half hidden by a coach, full of many men 
about town, laughing girls in outrageous toilettes, and 
hampers full of champagne, the corks of which popped at 
every moment. Her noisy neighbours had annoyed poor 
Valentine greatly, and George was surprised that she 
remained there. He imagined, however, that it was in 
obedience to some order of her husband, and he was not 



On the Course 117 

wrong. All, however, that he wanted to know was where- 
abouts she was. " I thank you," said he to Lisa, " I will go, 
and tell Mademoiselle de Ganges." 

" And I," answered the maid quickly, " will remain here 
on sentry. If the Count should come to speak to Madame, 
I will make a sign to Mademoiselle that he is here, for 
he must not see her." 

Now or never was the moment to recompense the kindly 
devotion of the girl, and George had put his hand into his 
pocket for his purse, when she perceived the movement. 

" Ah, Monsieur," said she, taking the pose of Hippocrates 
refusing the gifts of Artaxerxes, " 1 do not require anything 
of the kind. I am only too happy to be of service to my 
mistress. But if I may venture to advise Monsieur, he will 
lose no time, for the Count will certainly rejoin Madame, 
when the last race bas been run, and there is only one after 
this, and see the horses are coming in." 

She was right, they came galloping in, in two divisions, the 
first of which was composed of three horses so close together, 
that it was almost impossible to say which was leading ; the 
riders had settled down to work and were plying whip and 
spur vigorously ; in another second the race would be lost 
and won, and the air rang with the names of the horses 
amongst which that of Black Radish, the favourite of 
M. de Saint Senier, could be plainly distinguished. 

George had forgotten all about his bet, and hardly gave a 
thought to the money which he was going to win on an 
outsider that had started at twenty to one. He left the 
lady's-maid planted on the lawn by a post, by which he 
calculated to find the landau of the Countess again, and 
he pressed with difficulty through the crowd, which was now 
rushing madly towards the bookmakers' ring, and which he- 
was obliged to cut through at right angles in order to reach 
Mademoiselle de Ganges' carriage. This was the moment 
when the crowd spread over the course, and communication 
was re-established between the spectators who had remained 
in their carriages, and the privileged visitors of the weighing 
enclosure. The stands emptied rapidly, for the ladies who 
occupied them did not disdain to hurry down on to the 
course, and swell the triumph of the winner who was 
returning with his rider on his back. All classes mingled 
together, and there was much confusion. Marquises and 
millionaires elbowed poor devils who had come to Long- 
champs to risk a few centimes, and young ladies of very 
equivocal character brushed against the dresses of high-born 
duchesses. After many efforts George succeeded in extri- 
cating himself from this torrent, and sought refuge between 



H8 Fickle Heart 

the carriages. But the crowd was everywhere, and he still 
had the greatest difficulty in making his way, for every one 
had rushed to the carriages to convey the last intelligence, 
and however shabby might be the conveyance it was sure to 
be surrounded by men eager to tell the name of the winner 
to its fair occupants. George sought in vain for the rallying 
signal, the white plumes of a Louis XVI. hat which Diana 
wore ; at last, however, he perceived it some ten paces from 
him, but in a position which he was utterly unable to reach, 
from finding it impossible to pass between the wheels of two 
carriages which almost touched each other, and at the same 
time he saw that Diana was conversing with a gentleman 
who was familiarly resting his arm on the edge of the 
carriage in which she was seated. 



CHAPTER XV 

ON THE COURSE — PART II 

This unexpected spectacle surprised George Cezambre very 
much, but did not for a moment awaken his jealousy, for he 
believed in Diana's love, and the idea of her deceiving him, 
never entered his head. His was the age when all seems 
bright and fair, the age of enthusiasm and illusion, and the 
suspicions which a knowledge of the world teaches had no 
place in his youthful heart. Besides Mademoiselle de Ganges 
had a perfect right to speak to any one. She knew a great 
number, and most of them moved in the best society, and 
these she had met at the house of the Countess de Sartilly. 
It had pleased her to coufine herself for six weeks to the 
Villa Primeveres, and it was not her lover who had induced 
her to do so. On the past evening they had entered into a 
bond, that she should show herself openly as she had done 
before, and therefore it was quite natural that one of her 
former acquaintances should have come up to her, and 
equally natural that she should have entered into conver- 
sation with him. On the course, and with thousands of eyes 
watching, a private interview is not very compromising. 
George felt that he ought not to disburb that of Diana with 
a gentleman whose back he could only see, and who most 
probably he had never met in his life. The place was not 
eminently adapted for an introduction, and conversations in 
the open air seldom last very long. George said to himself 
that it was sufficient for him for Diana to see that he had 
come back, and if she desired him to draw nearer, she could 
easily make a sign to him, if however, on the contrary, she 



On the Course 119 

preferred that he should not meet the gentleman with whom 
she was talking, she would presently dismiss her visitor, and 
then tell him all about it. Having therefore rapidly arrived 
at this decision, he went on a little further, and having by 
this means managed to get round the obstacle which had 
barred his progress, he posted himself at a little distance, so 
that Mademoiselle de Ganges would see him as soon as she 
happened to cast her eyes in his direction. She very soon 
did so, and gave him a glance which clearly signified, " Wait 
until I have finished, I shall not be long," and then continued 
her conversation with her visitor who had not remarked this 
brief by-play. And George waited more satisfied than ever. 
Diana had excellent reasons for not calling her lover up to 
her, before the Count de Sartilly had gone, for it was the 
Count, who having recognised her from the stand of the 
Jockey Club, where he was standing furnished with an 
excellent binocular, had had the audacity to come to her 
carriage. She had been careful not to refuse this advance on 
his part, and had accepted the encounter, as a man accepts 
a duel that has become inevitable. And she calculated that 
she might gain some advantage from it, which might help 
her to defend her old schoolmate. The attack had been 
brisk, and the return equally so. Gontran had commenced 
bv direct propositions, to which Diana had retorted with 
insolent railleries. He offered to buy her, and she had 
answered that she was not for sale, that she adored her lover, 
and that if she ever did leave him it would not be to become 
the mistress of Valentine's persecutor. Upon this the 
Count had lost his temper, and had declared that he would 
one day get rid of his wife. The dialogue had reached this 
pitch at the moment when George made his appearance, and 
he certainly would have taken part in it had he known its 
edifying tone. " Are you going to divorce her then 1 " asked 
Mademoiselle de Ganges, ironically, " I defy you to do so ! you 
would lose too much, my dear sir." 

" Divorce is not looked on as respectable," sneered Gontran. 
" Men of my position do not divorce their wives." 

" What do they do then to get rid of them, when they 
find them in the way 1 " 

" What does that matter to you 1 Would you marry me 
if I were a widower ? " 

" Not I. I have read the history of Blue Beard, and I 
would not risk meeting the fate of your first ; besides, I 
think that you are capable of going through the whole 
seven." 

" This is a bad time for a joke." 

" What are you doing then ? Do you think me fool enough 



120 Fiekle Heart 

to take your matrimonial propositions in a serious light. If 
you had ever had the slightest intention of marrying me you 
would never have commenced by proposing to keep me.'' 

"One does the best one can," replied Sartiliy, with a 
mocking laugh, " whether I become a widower or not, I am 
determined that you shall be mine — and you shall be." 

" Really, well I tell you that I will take you neither for a 
husband nor a lover." 

" Because you are taken with that pretty baby whom you 
are bringing up by the bottle in your villa at Auteuil." 

" I worship him." 

"Then you are contented with the leavings of the Vis- 
countess de Saint Senier 1 " 

" If I replaced him by you, I should be taking the leavings 
of many others — but enough of this I am neither a prude, 
nor yet a flirt, and I might have listened to you had not my 
heart been already engaged, and had I not been Valentine's 
friend." 

" Your fancy will pass away, and the second does not 
count, for you will be her friend no longer. I have for- 
bidden her to speak to you, and I have taken steps to prevent 
her repeating her Auteuil folly, and if she continues to 
fatigue me with her ridiculous affection, I will " 

" What will you do ] " 

" I will send her back to her father, where she can rejoin 
that engineer that I pricked the other day with a good 
sword thrust. She will be free, as I am now, for I have got 
a hold on her, and if I chose to live openly with you, no one 
could say a word against it." 

"Except myself," returned Diana, smiling; "but you are 
boasting, you dare not give me your arm to escort me into 
the weighing enclosure. All your friends are there, and 
they all know my history." 

" Do you really think that I dare not do so 1 " asked 
Sartiliy fixing his eyes steadily on Diana. " Well, then, come, 
I am ready to escort you, and we will pass before my wife's 
carriage, which is at the other end of the lawn." 

Diana trembled ; she knew enough, and no longer doubted 
that Gontran was preparing to make away with his wife. 
The moment had arrived to end with him, and to fly to 
Valentine's help. She raised her head, and made a sign to 
George, who had not moved but was beginning to grow 
impatient. 

" Are you coming ? " asked the Count, offering his hand to 
assist her to get out of the carriage. 

" Thank you, I can do without you, for my friend is coming 
back. I will introduce you to him." 



On the Course 121 

George was already by the side of the carriage, and as 
Gontrau turned sharply round he came face to face with 
him. They had never met although one had pursued the 
other through the darkness of a February night, and yet 
each instinctively recognised the other, before Diana named 
them. 

"M. George Cezambre — M. the Count de Sartilly," said 
she, with the most perfect calmness. 

George was very pale, and knew not what to do, but he 
did not lose countenance. 

The Count glared upon his rival, turned on his heel, and 
went off saying, "My compliments to you, mademoiselle, 
and remember I am always at your orders," without taking 
the slightest notice of George Cezambre, but not without 
a familiar nod to Mile, de Ganges. Diana did not give her 
lover the time to question her, she jumped from her carriage, 
took him by. the arm, and drew him away. " Have you 
found Valentine 1 " added she. 

" Yes, I know where she is, but " 

" You would like to know what her husband has been saying 
to me. "Well I will tell you, but first of all promise that you 
will take no steps without further consulting me. Later on 
you shall settle both our accounts with this man, but you 
must swear to me not to seek a quarrel with him to-day." 

" No, not to-day, for he has disappeared, and I should 
have some trouble in finding him, but " 

" That is all I ask, and now, why should I conceal it from 
you ; again to-day this man asked me to be his mistress. 
You can guess my reply, and I called you up on purpose to 
show him how much I valued his offers. Then he under- 
stood that I was laughing at him, and I hope that he will 
not re-commence. But I tremble for his wife, and I must 
see her at once. Where is she 1 " 

" At the other end of the course." 

" Have you spoken to her 1 " 

" No, her former maid pointed her out to me." 

" What, is Lisa here 1 " 

" She came expressly to see you, she knows that we are 
living together, she heard it from the Count's valet, Francis." 

" Francis 1 Ah, I had foreseen that. What does she want 
with me ? " 

" To tell you that your friend's life is not secure whilst 
she is under the same roof with her husband, and to beg you 
to come to her help." 

" Yes, Lisa is a staunch girl, and like her, I think that the 
time has come for me to mix myself up with my poor 
Valentine's affairs. At Auteuil the other day, she would 



122 Fickle Heart 

not listen to me, but this time she will do so, when I tell 
her that the wretch Gontran has offered to marry me." 

" What, he dared V 

" He dares anything, and recoils before no crime. Up to 
the present Valentine has not had the courage to break 
with him. She must not go back to his house to-night. 
You must be present at my interview with her. Are we 
far from her carriage now 1 " 

" No, I can see the maid who is waiting for us close to it." 

"And I," said Diana, hurriedly, can see M. de Saint Senier 
coming from the other side." 

" I have already met him, when I was in search of Mme. 
de Sartilly, and he overwhelmed me with offers of service. 
He declared that he would put up my name at his club." 

" Let him do so, I will tell you why afterwards ; but now 
I wish to avoid him. I do not think that he has seen us yet. 
Do you go and meet him, and keep him with you, whilst I 
go and meet Lisa who will take me to Valentine. When 
you have got rid of him go and wait for me at the carriage, 
and have all ready for leaving as soon as I come. It is not 
impossible that I may bring Mme. de Sartilly with me." 

George did not half like this arrangement, but there was 
no time to discuss it. Diana was already some distance off, 
and M. de Saint Senier was approaching with hasty steps, 
so that it was better to stop him by speaking to him, 
otherwise chance might lead him in the same direction as 
Diana had taken. M. de Saint Senier appeared to be looking 
for some one, and as soon as he saw George he ran up to him 
with all the air of a messenger of good news. " Well," ex- 
claimed he, "confess that I have spotted a winner." George 
did not in the least comprehend this bit of racing slang, and 
so the Viscount had to put matters more clearly. " Black 
Radish came in first, beating Stewpon by half a length ; " 
then as George still seemed not to understand, he added, " I 
put fifty louis on Black Radish for you. You have gained 
twenty thousand francs, which I have brought you. Have you 
forgotten all about the bet '? I have been looking for you 
for more than a quarter of an hour, to give them to you." 

George gazed at the bank-notes with a stupefied air of 
amazement, and hesitated to take them, but Saint Senier 
thrust them into his hand, saying : " Stow them away, my 
dear fellow — this is your first gain, and I hope it will not be 
your last, for I trust that we shall do some more business 
together. I am sure that it is you that have brought me 
this luck. I should have won two hundred thousand francs 
had I not been weak enough to give up two-thirds of the bet 
to some of my club friends, but I don't grumble, and all I 
want is to begin again." 



On the Course 123 

'' But this is Dot forme," stammered George, "and I do 
not think that I ought to take it." 

" Take it 1 that is delightful. Why it is yours, unless indeed 
you would like to make it a present to our worthy William 
Oxwall, the bookmaker, who his just paid it to me. All 
that you have to do is to put it away safely in your pocket- 
book. It seems to me that it has just come in handy, since 
you have been buying carriages and horses, and I am sure 
that your charming friend, Mile, de Ganges, will like you 
none the less because you have just won a thousand louis." 

George was about to protest that Diana was totally in- 
different to money, but the Viscount went on without giving 
hini time to speak. '• Xow that you have started so well, I 
hope that you will not stop. Fortune smiles on you. She 
is like a woman, you must take her at once, and she will 
shower her favours on you. Commence by starting a proper 
establishment immediately. You will soon get tired of the 
air of the country. I know of a little house in the Avenue 
Friedland which would just suit you, and would certainly 
please Mile, de Ganges. And to keep up an appearance 
worthy of her, and of yourself, who will in a year at latest 
be a millionaire three or four times over, throw yourself 
into the ring. I will answer for your success, and I bitterly 
regret that I did not know before that you were so lucky. 
Why did you hide yourself away for six whole weeks ? I 
could have given you a good share in the stable that I have 
started, and would have allowed you eighteen months' credit 
to have paid in your share — and when I think that instead of 
doing so, I took my friend Sartilly who has the devil's own 
bad luck, for a partner, I do curse, I can assure you. Will 
you believe it," continued Saint Senier, after a short pause, 
" that in the race in which we have won such a pretty little 
sum, Sartilly has lost four thousand louis in backing a brute 
that was not even placed. Oxwall told me of it, and Sar- 
tilly owes him the four thousand louis. He never spots the 
right one, and I tremble for the success of our partnership. 
Ill luck is catching, but I hope that your good fortune will 
counterbalance his bad. If another opportunity presents 
itself I will let you know. But in the meantime it is settled 
that I put you up at my club, only I will find you another 
seconder than poor Gontran, he might bring you ill luck." 

George was half inclined to say that he did not wish any 
one to second him, but Diana had advised him to be made a 
member, and he thought that she must have good reasons 
for wishing it, he therefore replied, '' As you like, only I do 
not think that I shall be a very regular attendant, and I do 
not play." 



124 Fickle Heart 

" But you must play, do you hear, when a man has luck 
like yours he is a fool not to profit by it in every way, ami 
you see that you will win at baccarat as you have ou the 
race. But what have you done with your fair friend 1 Shall 
we go and consult her about your entrance into the club, I 
am sure that she will be of my opinion." 

George could not very well agree to this proposition, and 
he was seeking for some means of getting out of it, when the 
Viscount exclaimed, " Hulloa ! there is my wife, and it seems 
to me that she is looking for me, I cannot for a moment 
think what she can have to say to me, but if she has come 
to ask me to take her into the weighing enclosure, I cannot 
decently refuse, I am a free husband, but still I am never 
uncivil to her." 

" Then I will take leave of you," returned George, de- 
lighted to profit by the opportunity of getting rid of the 
Viscount, and of avoiding theViscountess. It was indeed Mme. 
de Saint Senier who was coming up followed by a tall foot- 
man, but whether it was her husband that she was looking 
for was a matter of doubt, and she would have had sufficient 
self-possession to have spoken to George in her husband's 
presence, who indeed did all he could to keep him. 

But George saved himself by a precipitate flight, and 
managed to mingle with the crowd that was besieging the 
tent where Rouze, the lemonade seller to the Society for the 
Encouragement of the Breeding of Horses, was dispensing 
his refreshing drinks. 

George still held in his hand the twenty thousand francs 
which the Viscount had forced on him, and he would willingly 
have scattered them over the turf, had he not feared to be 
followed by a crowd, who whilst picking them up would 
have looked upon him as a madman, and pointed him out 
as such to the police. He decided at last to put them in his 
pocket, and take Diana's advice regarding their disposal, 
and with the view of obeying her instructions he made his 
way to the spot where he had left the victoria under the 
charge of Domingo. The worthy negro had not moved from 
his seat, and took no heed of the chaff of the other coach- 
men. He was fond of horses and took much interest in the 
races, but he loved his master more, and testified his joy at 
seeing him by a liberal display of Ins white teeth. Mile, de 
Ganges had not yet come back, and she kept them waiting 
a long time, and the last race was about to be run before 
she returned. 

" Let us go," cried she shortly, to her lover, " we can do 
no more here ." 

" Have you seen Mme. de Sartilly ? " asked George. 



Three Conspirators 125 

"No, I have only seen Lisa, and what she has told me has 
made me feel very uncomfortable. She was there when the 
Count came back, he was half mad with rage." 

" Yes, he had lost very heavily." 

" And he will vent his anger on Valentine. He got into 
the carriage without saying a word to her, gave his orders 
to the coachman, and they drove . off. I do not know what 
will take place at their house, but I have great fears for her, 
but I will never desert her." 

" What do you intend to do 1 " 

" I do not know yet, but I have now a means of communi- 
cation with her every day, or rather every night. Lisa has 
the key of a little gate which leads into the grounds, she can 
go in whenever she likes, and Mme. Sartilly can go and 
meet her. She is a good girl, and I have every confidence 
in her. I have taken her into my service so as always to 
have her at hand. You know I was in want of a maid." 

" You have done well to engage her. Where is she ? " 

" On the way to the villa, and as she is going on foot we 
shall be there before her. I wish to be there to receive 
her." 

" Go on," said George, to his coachman. 

Domingo turned at once into a space left vacant by the 
departure of one of the carriages which had been drawn up 
alongside, and they drove towards the entrance of the course. 
George was a little annoyed ; he thought that Diana, occupied 
herself too much with the Countess, and not sufficiently 
with him. His mistress guessed his thoughts, and whispered 
to him softly, " I have never loved you so much as I do now, 
and I will be all yours, when I shall no more fear for 
Valentine, but first let me save her." 



CHAPTER XVI 

THREE CONSrlRATORS 

Henri Trevieres lived in the Boulevard deCourcelles,nearthe 
Pare Monceaux, not very far from the Rue de la Neva where 
M. Vacheron's house was situated. His windows faced the 
gate of the park, and his rooms were very comfortable and 
situated on the fourth floor, with a balcony from which 
there was a magnificent view. Trevieres, though he was 
nothing but a civil engineer, had inherited from his father, 
some twenty thousand francs per annum, and he could 
afford himself comfortable rooms, and was not compelled to 
be incessantly seeking for employment. Since the rupture 



126 Fickle Heart 

of his engagement with M. de Saint Senier, he had taken no 
other employment, nor had he sought for any work. 
Idleness did not make time hang heavy on his hands, though 
it was a new thing for him to be doing nothing, for since he 
had quitted the Central College he had never taken a rest. 
He had first been employed in some extensive smelting 
works, then in forming a harbour, and lastly by a very large 
railway company ; he had already done much good work, and 
had a bright future before him. He could easily have at 
once found a situation far more safe and lucrative than the 
creation of the artesian wells on the property of M. de Saint 
Senier, but he had not attempted to do so. 

This renunciation of professional business, dated from the 
day upon which he had met the Countess at her father's 
house. He had loved her passionately before her marriage, 
and though he had lost sight of her for several years, which 
he had passed far from Paris, he had never forgotten her. 
His love which had never really been stamped out, had 
sprung up again at the Marchioness de Muire's ball, and the 
next day's interview had completed the work. He had only 
lived for Valentine since he knew that she was unhappy. 
But he remained faithful to the promise he had made as she 
got into her carriage at the door of her father's house, and he 
held himself in readiness to come to her aid should she 
summon him. He would have been only too happy if she 
had accepted him as her ally. He did not however deprive 
himself of the pleasure of gazing at her from afar off, and he 
walked much oftener than he would have confessed in the 
neighbourhood of her residence, and he had had cause to 
repent of this imprudence. One of his sorrows was that he 
saw no more of M. Vacheron. He had not dared to go back 
there any more after the discussion between father and 
daughter, at which he bad been present, and he had hoped 
that the ex-contractor would pay him a visit. But M. 
' Vacheron did nothing of the kind, though he had no reasons 
to be angry with Henri since chance had done everything. 
But the good man was rather obstinate, and when he had 
once got an idea into his head, it was very difficult to get it 
out again. Trcvieres had ended by saying to himself that 
it was his place to yield, and he determined to go to the Rue 
de la Neva, as soon as his wound would permit him to leave 
the house. He was already convalescent, and had only kept 
his bed four days, for he had been attended by an excellent 
surgeon, and nursed by two of his schoolmates, who had 
been his seconds in the duel with M. de Sartilly. The day 
after the races the weather was magnificent, and he sat in 
his balcony with his arm in a sling. The trees in the Pare 



Three Conspirators 127 

Monceaux were covered with new leaves, the lawns were 
fresh and green, and joyous children sported in the paths. 
Trevicres gazed upon this pleasant picture, and thought on 
another garden where a broken-hearted woman was wandering 
about alone. The garden was that of the Count de Sartilly ; it 
served as a prison for his wife, but the woman was she 
whom Henri so passionately adored. His idea was to enter 
it, but he felt that this would be impossible without injuring 
the reputation of the Countess. 

After some time be noticed a man who was standing on 
the pavement with his back to the park railing gazing 
steadily upwards, he got up to see him better, and as he did 
so the man began to make signs to him with a heavy stick 
upon which he had been leaning. TreVieres at once 
recognised M. Vacheron, and made a signal to him to come 
up. It was his place to have gone down, but his wound was 
his excuse, and he did not yet feel himself strong enough to 
venture into the street. M. "Vacheron did not wait for a 
second invitation, he crossed the road, and deliberately came 
into the house. TreVieres had only one servant to do all his 
work, even the little cooking that he required, and this 
solitary domestic had gone out, he therefore went himself to 
open the door, and he was surprised to find that his visitor 
had already reached the third story, he must have had good 
legs, as he had run up the stairs four at a time. 

" Do not hurry yourself," said Henri. 

" Don't be afraid, I have excellent wind," returned M. 
Vacheron, " and since you would not spare me half the 
journey, I will come up the whole way." 

This was no idle boast, for a minute after he arrived on the 
landing where his young friend was waiting for him, and 
addressed him thus, " Ah, thou may'st well say that thou 
have kept me in a temper for the last two months. What 
dost thou mean by this conduct ? Thou livest a few yards 
from me, and yet thou hast never set thy feet inside my door. 
The gentleman is sulky," said I. " The gentleman has 
grown too fine to put himself out. This is what comes of 
going to balls at Marquises' ! at present thou behaves t like my 
son-in-law." 

" Pardon me, my dear sir," stammered Henri. " I will 
explain all to you." 

"Begin by letting me come in then. I am strong enough, 
but I should like to sit down a little." 

TreVieres ushered him into his sitting-room, the windows 
of which looked upon the Boulevard de Courcelles, and after 
Vacheron had settled himself in a comfortable armchair he 
began again. " I should have never closed my door on thee, 



128 Fickle Heart 

but I had sworn to wait until it pleased thee to make some 
sign, and had I not perceived thee perched on thy balcony, 
we should perhaps have never met again. Besides I should 
never have come up, had I not seen thine arm in a sling. 
What hast thou done with thine arm ? Hast thou had an 
attack of rheumatism 1 

" No, I am hurt." 

" Good, thou hast fallen off a ladder, and broken a paw, 
but no, thou dost not work any more now. One of your 
friends told me so. Then thou hast not been maimed by an 
accident." 

" I shall not be laid up long, for my wound is nearty 
healed." 

" Thy wound, thy wound ! AVhy thou talkest as if thou 
hadst been fighting a duel ? " 

" Such a thing may happen to anyone," said Trevieres 
smiling. 

" Then I have guessed right, thou hast fought, and now 
thou art entirely fit for society. I have never fought except 
with my fists, and then only when I was an ap2orentice. 
But what was the cause of this duel ? " 

" A quarrel." 

" Of course, but with whom." 

" With some one who insulted me." 

" It was about a woman 1 " 

Trevieres remained silent. He disdained to lie, and yet he 
could not tell the father that he had fought for his daughter, 
when he knew it himself. " Ah, thou wilt not answer me. 
We will not talk of it any more. After all thy affairs only 
regard thyself, and I have enough of my own. Ah, my boy, 
since that day that thou earnest to breakfast, the life I lead 
has been a sad one. I suppose if I told thee that I had 
entirely broken with my son-in-law, thou wouldst not 
be much surprised." 

" I already knew that you were on bad terms with M. de 
Sartilly." 

" That, I did not care a bit for, but what cuts me to the 
heart is, that Valentine has sided with her husband." 

" I hope that she has not ceased to see you." 

" Not altogether, although her husband has forbidden her 
to do so, I do not go to her, and she does not come to me. 
We meet in the Monceaux Pare, and even then she by so 
doing runs the chance of being maltreated by him." 

" Maltreated ! " repeated Trevieres. 

" He has not yet got to striking her, but he leads her a 
terrible life. What dost thou say to that, Henri ? '' 

'■ Why does he do so, what reason does he allege 1 " 



Three Conspirators 129 

" What reason 1 Why, because I refused to lend him 
money, of course. He avenges himself on her. I am sure 
that she does not tell me half what she suffers, and I often 
ask myself if I ought not to go up, and strike the scoundrel. 
Ah ! the law ought to be altered, a father should have the 
right to sue for the divorce of his daughter. Valentine will 
not listen to sueing for a divorce, nor even for a judicial 
separation. But I know that I shall end by interfering, 
and even if I take her away by force, I will remove her to 
my house, where she will be safe from the violence of the 
Count de Sartilly. We shall then see if he dare attempt to 
take her back." 

" Can I do nothing to help you in defending her 1 " 

" Yes, I know that thou art devoted to her, and I suspect 
that thou hast not forgotten that thou proposed to her, and 
would have married her, had she not been madly in love with 
this well-dressed puppy, but it is just for the reason that 
thou hast been in love with her, that thou canst not mix 
thyself up in her affairs ; but for all that I can consult thee 
as to what should be done, so that I may take some decisive 
step, * and for this reason Valentine wrote to me yesterday, 
that she had something new to tell me, and that she would 
meet me to-day, Monday, in the Pare Monceaux, near the 
water. I have waited for her two hours, and she has not 
yet made her appearance, which has caused me much 
uneasiness." 

" One of my friends who came to see me, told me that she 
was at the Longchamps races yesterday." 

" Then she is not ill, and that is the more reason for being 
uneasy." 

" But it appears to me, that you can insist on seeing her," 
exclaimed TreVieres. 

" Decidedly," responded Vacheron, brandishing his cane, as 
though to threaten the absent Sartilly. " If he ventured to 
touch a hair of my child's head, I would break his bones with 
this stick that I carry. But Valentine begged me not to 
come. I do not wish to vex her, and know not what to do." 

" Doubtless she will write to you." 

" How do I know that she will. This fellow may perhaps 
have hidden her away. I ought to-day to have been with 
my broker regarding a most important sale. Everything is 
going down, and a delay of twenty-four hours may perhaps 
cost me four hundred thousand francs ; but I do not think of 
this, and if in two days from to-day, I do not hear of my 
daughter, I will go and report the conduct of my son-in-law 
to the Commissary of police." 

" That I think would ba unwise." 



130 FicMc Heart 

" Tell me what to do then 1 " 

"Why not write to Mine, de Sartilly'? You could send 
your letter by your servant, and he could bring back an 
answer." 

" It would never reach her ; be sure that the Count has 
given orders to his people, and that she is carefully watched." 

" She can get out, however, since you meet her in the Fare 
Monceaux." 

" Certainly ; but I have an idea that she is followed 
wherever she goes. They put spies on hei", and watch her. 
Everyone is against her in that house which has cost me 
millions, and which I have only built to shelter that villain 
and his hangers on. Valentine had a maid who was devoted 
to her, but Sartilly dismissed her, and she has now nothing 
but enemies about her. I tell you again, my boy, that I have 
come to the end of my patience. I want my daughter, and if 
my son-in-law will not give her back to me, I shall end by 
doing him an injury." 

" He would perhaps do so, if you gave him the money that 
he asked for," suggested Trevieres timidly. 

" I will give him double, if I was sure that he would renounce 
Valentine for ever. But how could I compel him to keep 
any agreement that he might enter into. The law does not 
recognise such arrangements. Until this unhappy marriage 
shall have been legally dissolved, my daughter will remain 
in the house of her husband ; and she will not aid me to 
break it. Listen, and tell me if what I am going to tell thee, 
is not abominable — ? There are times when I wish she had a 
lover, that it might give cause for a divorce." 

Trevieres trembled at these words. " The faithlessness of 
a husband is also grounds for a divorce," murmured he. 
" And I do not doubt for a moment, but that Sartilly has 
frequently deceived his wife. But how to prove it, and who 
will sue ? The only one to do it is the husband of one of his 
mistresses ; for Valentine refuses to do so. He has been 
unfaithful to her, [ believe, in her own house. She had a 
companion, a very handsome girl " 

" Mile, de Ganges, her former schoolmate 1 " 

" Yes. Well, this companion left the house suddenly two 
months ago, to live with a lover. My old servant saw her 
yesterday drive past in a fine carriage. Sartilly paid her a 
great deal of attention, and I am certain that he is keeping 
her. Unfortunately she is not a married woman, and she 
will not give up the name of her lover." 

" Have you told this to Mme. de Sartilly ? " 
" Ten times, but she declares that it is not true. She even 
goes so far as to defend her friend Diana, who resembles her 



Three Conspirators 131 

so little, and declares that she has been calumniated. A 
creature, who might have lived decently since she had some 
money of her own, but who prefers to sell herself, so as to ride 
about in her carriage. These are the style of friends one 
picks up in a school. Ah ! had my wife but lived, Valentine 
would never have left us, and she would have prevented her 
from marrying this titled thief ; but I had not the proper 
influence to oppose this unhappy marriage. I was nothing 
but a poor old man, and I knew nothing of the world which 
my daughter was going into. I thought that there were 
nothing but honest people in it, and Valentine gave me all 
sorts of good reasons, to which I could make no opposition. 
Ah ! I bite my fingers now, when I think that I did not bring 
her up to work for her living, for then she would not be a 
Countess, but plain Mme. Trevikres, and a happy woman." 

A ring at the bell interrupted the lamentations of the ex- 
contractor. " Some one has come to see thee, I am off," said 
he commencing to get up. 

" Pray remain, I beg of you," answered Trevieres. " I dc 
not expect anyone, and whoever it is I will not let them in, 
only I must go to the door myself, because my servant is out. 
I shall only be a moment." 

M. Vacheron remained seated, and the engineer hurried to 
the door to see who had rung. He found Lisa whom he had 
never seen, and did not know, as she had only entered Mme. 
Sartilly's service after the marriage, and Trevieres was not a 
visitor at the house. 

" Monsieur," said she bluntly, " I was formerly in the 
service of Mme. de Sartilly, and I come from her, or nearly 
so." 

" And does she send you to me," exclaimed the young man, 
filled with joy and surprise. 

" You are M. Henri Trevieres ? " 

" Yes — yes." 

" I knew I should find you at home, but I much feared 
that you might not have recovered from your sword 
thrust." 

" It is nearly healed. Mme. de Sartilly then knows that I 
have been wounded ? " 

" Of course ; before I came here, I went to M. Vacheron's, 
but he was out." 

" He is here." 

" I am very glad to hear it. May I see him 1 " 

" Willingly, but is it with he or I that you have busi- 
ness % " 

"With both of you. I received orders tc go first to him, 
and then to you on the same matter." 



132 Fickle Heart 

' ; Come in then," said Trevieres, drawing back to allow Lisa 
to enter the room. She was coquettishly attired in a dress 
that the Countess had only worn once or twice, and a very 
stylish hat, so that Vacheron at first took her for one of 
Trevieres' flames. He was about to get up and go out very 
much disgusted with his young friend's behaviour, when he 
gave a second glance at the maid, and recognised her at once. 
" What, is it thou ? " cried he. 

" Yes, sir, and very pleased to have met you at last." 

" There is reason in the proverb, ' When one speaks of the 
devil,' etc. We were^ speaking of thee just now. But what 
dost thou want with me I Dost thou come from my daughter ?" 

" No, sir, I have not seen the Countess to-day, I come from 
Mile, de Ganges." 

" That jade." 

" It is true that she was wrong to do as she has done, but 
my mistress has forgiven her, and she is the only friend who 
has remained faithful to her in her misfortunes." 

" Then my daughter is unhappy ! " cried the old man. 
" Why did she not come to-day to the Pare Monceaux 1 " 

" Probably because the Count has locked her up." 

" Locked her up. Ah ! we will see to that. I will have a 
word or two to say to this Count, and Valentine shall not 
remain with him for twenty-four hours longer. I shall be at 
the Avenue d'Eylau in ten minutes, and if his flunkeys try 
to prevent my going in, I will smash them." 

Daddy Vacheron had sprung to his feet, had rammed his 
broad brimmed hat over his eyes, and executed a threaten- 
ing flourish with his heavy cane. 

" Be calm, I beg of you," said Trevieres, " and let the girl 
tell us what has happened." 

Lisa was willing and ready. " Yesterday at the races 
Monsieur quarrelled with Madame, after having left her alone 
in the carriage the whole day ; he was busily engaged in bet- 
ting, and he lost a big sum of money." 

" And it is on Valentine that he takes it out, the con- 
founded rogue ! " 

" If he had only lost money, it would not have been so 
bad, but he proposed to Mile, de Ganges to come and live 
with him. I need not say that she would have nothing to 
do with him. She hates him ; besides, she has a lover whom 
she adores. But she wanted to see how far the Count would 
go, and at last he offered to marry her." 

" How marry her 1 " 

" He told her that one day he would be a widower, and it 
was this speech that frightened Mademoiselle so much." 

" Ah, the villain, he is going to murder my daughter." 



Three Conspirators 133 

" He took her away before the end of the races, and as 
they were going off you should have seen the way in which 
he looked at her. Mademoiselle has not slept all night for 
thinking of it, and had she dared she would have come to yon 
herself. But she was afraid of not being well received, and 
so sent me in her place." 

" Sent you where ? " 

"To your house, sir, to tell you that it was time for you 
to take action, and she sent me also to M. Trevieres." 

" Why to Trevieres ? " 

" Well — well — because Monsieur is your friend, and 
because he is greatly attached to the Countess." 

" How do you know that 1 " asked Valentine's father, 
frowning. 

" Why, if you want plain proof, because he fought for her 
a day or two back." 

" What ! " exclaimed Vacheron, looking steadily at 
Trevieres, "then this duel in which you were wounded " 

" M. de Sartilly picked a quarrel with me," answered the 
young man with a blush. 

" And you said nothing to me about it ? " 

" I did not wish anyone to know anything about the 
matter. I did not seek the quarrel myself. There was 
fortunately no talk about it, and I am deeply grieved that it 
has come to the knowledge of " 

" Of Mile . de Ganges," interrupted Lisa. " Mademoiselle 
only speaks of the matter to her lover and myself. She 
gained her information by the merest chance. She was walk- 
ing in the direction of the Auteuil racecourse when she met 
Mme. de Sartilly, who had heard that her husband was about 
to fight a duel, and was looking for him. This was their first 
meeting since Mile, de Ganges had left the house, and they 
found M. de Sartilly in rear of the Stand, where the duel 
had taken place. It was just over before they reached the 
spot. They saw M. TreVieres some distance off, as he was 
getting into his carriage, but did not recognise him, and 
afterwards they heard the Count talking about one of his 
seconds, and telling him that you had told some story about 
the Countess." 

" He lied," returned Henri quickly, less to correct the 
waiting- maid's tale, than to free himself from the imputa- 
tion of having acted in such a manner, in the eyes of M. 
Vacheron. 

" Well, but how did all this come about 1 " asked the old 
man angrily. 

" This is exactly what happened. It is my custom to ride 
every morning from eight to ten, and to reach the Bois de 



134 Fickle Heart 

Boulogne I sometimes go through the Avenue d'Eylau. 
Some eight days ago I went this way. I had just turned 
down the Eue Villejust, and there, I confess, I was wrong in 
doing it, I paused for a moment to look through the gate of 
the Countess's house. Whilst I was doing so, M. de Sartilly 
rode up, followed by a groom, and in the most insolent 
manner asked me what I was doing there. I do not exactly 
know what reply I made, but I am sure that I was courteous, 
for I especially desired to avoid a quarrel with him, which 
might have compromised your daughter, but he was evidently 
anxiously to bring one about. He in the most brutal manner 
ordered me to leave the place, and I, losing my temper, 
answered him sharply, upon which he informed me that his 
seconds should wait upon me the next day." 

"And they came, I suppose," muttered M. Vacheron 
between his teeth, for he was hardly able to restrain his anger. 

" Yes, sir, and I was not much surprised to find that one of 
them was M. de Saint Senier, who six weeks ago had made 
proposals to me to undertake some engineering works." 

"Yes, he is his confederate on the turf. They have gone 
shares in a racing stable, but deuce take me if I know where 
Sartilly has got the money to do it from. At any rate, he 
has not got a rap from me." 

" Matters having reached such a pitch I could not draw 
back." 

" No, certainly not, but thou shouldst have killed him," 
said the ex-contractor passionately. 

"I did not try to spare him, and I nearly touched him 
twice, but after lungeing I came to my guard again a second 
t oo late, and " 

" Don't talk to me about thy guards. This man i3 no 
better than a mad dog, and you kill such beasts whenever 
you come across them. It is not with either sword or pistol 
that I will fight with him, if he refuses to give me back my 
daughter." 

'' Take care, sir, respectable people do not resort to violent 
measures." 

"They are the only means by which you can deal with 
scoundrels. I know the best course to take, but thou must 
not mix thyself up in it for many reasons." 

"M. Vacheron is right," said Lisa, "he is the only person 
who has the right to interfere in drder to protect Mine, de 
Sartilly. You and I, M. Trevieres, would spoil everything." 

" I am afraid so." 

" And besides that I don't want anyone's assistance," 
replied Vacheron ; " but dost thou know what thou ought to 
do, Henri?" 



Three Conspirators 135 

" I will do whatever you wish." 

" Art thou able to go out in a carriage ? " 

" Certainly. The doctor said I could go out in three days, 
and two days earlier will not make much difference.'' 

"No, that won't kill thee. Well, then listen, this girl 
has rendered us a great service by warning us, and she may 
be useful to us in the future ." 

" She is only too anxious to be of service to you," broke in 
Lisa. 

" Where does she live 1 " 

"At the Villa des Primev5res with her lover." 

" Who is he ? " 

" A young gentleman of very good position, who at once 
espoused Madame's cause. He hates the Count and M. and 
Madame de Saint Senier." 

" Then, my dear Henri, there is nothing to prevent thy 
seeing this Mile, de Ganges." 

" I have been in her service since yesterday," said Lisa, " I 
am living at the villa, and am ready to take M. Trevieres 
there at once." 

" I am quite ready to go," said the engineer, " only I am 
entirely unacquainted with the lady " 

" She knows you by repute, sir, and will be very glad to 
see you." 

" Tell her," continued Vacheron, " that I thank her warmly; 
before I was ready to curse her, but now I would gladly 
receive her in my house. She is living with her lover, well, 
he shall marry her, and she will perhaps live more happily 
with him than my Valentine has done with that scoundrelly 
son-in-law of mine." 

" I will go at once, but what are you going to do 1 " 

" I am going to walk to the Avenue d'Eylau. I shall arrive 
quicker that way, for cabs are awfully slow ; besides I do not 
wish the servants to see me drive up. I can open the gate 
quietly, and I will answer for it that I will see my daughter." 

"To see her is not everything," hinted the maid. "The 
object is to get her away from them." 

" I intend to try. Come round to my house this evening, 
Henri ; perhaps thou mayest find her there. As for thee, 
Lisa, thou knowest what to do. and thou shalt be handsomely 
recompensed for the service that thou hast done us." 

"Oh, sir, my motives were not interested ones." 

"Good, but that will not prevent my giving thee a good 
dowry when thou get'st married." 

" Thank you, sir, but I am in no hurry." 

" Well, I am, so I am off. Go and get a carriage for 
M. Trevieres, By the time that thou hast found one I shall 



136 Fickle Heart 

be at the other end of the Pare Monceaux. I shall see thee 
again this evening, Henri," and without waiting any longer 
M. Vacheron left the room, and descended the staircase with 
all the fire and energy of a young man. 

A few moments afterwards he passed through the park 
gate, and hurried along the pathway. The ex-contractor, who 
was about to give battle to the Count de Sartilly, had been 
cast in a hardy mould ; he had a will of iron, and if he was 
slow to come to a decision, when he had done so, he carried it 
out with energy and perseverance. This firmness of dis- 
position had been one of the greatest auxiliaries to him in 
making his fortune. He was as patient as a peasant, to 
which class he had belonged, for he had been born in 
Auvergne ; he had submitted to all the indignities which his 
worthless son-in-law had heaped upon his head, until he 
learned that not content with plundering him, he had gone 
so far as to threaten the life of his wife ; and now Vacheron 
would have slain him to rescue his daughter from his hands. 
The lamb had turned into a lion. The worthy citizens seated 
on the benches in the park, as they watched this kindly- 
featured old man walk hurriedly past them, thought that he 
was one of themselves, and that he was simply endeavouring 
by rapid exercise to check a natural tendency to corpulency, 
and did not for a moment guess that he was hurrying so fast 
to his destination in order to deal out justice to the persecutor 
of his daughter. After having passed through the park he 
continued his rapid course along the Avenue Hoche, which 
leads to the Place de l'Etoile, passed under the Arch of 
Triumph, and never deviating from the straight line, at last 
found himself in the Avenue d'Eylau. He was advancing 
valiantly to the fight, but in fact he had no definite plan, and 
as he drew near the house he relaxed his pace a little in 
order to settle his course of action. If he could see Valentine 
alone nothing would be easier than to explain everything to 
her, and he relied upon his pleadings as her father to induce 
her to accompany him ; but if Gontran was at Lome, the 
position would assume a more complicated form ; in that case 
he must play a bold game, and tell his son-in-law plainly 
that he would appeal to the law to remove Mme. de Sartilly 
from a house where she ran the risk of being murdered by 
her husband. The success, however, of such a proceeding 
would be very doubtful, as there was much lack of direct 
evidence, and anxious as Vacheron was to finish once and for 
all with his son-in-law, he could not help secretly hoping that 
he might not meet him. 

" "Will he be in, or will he be out ? " asked the old man to 
himself, and each time he answered, "He will not be in," 



'Tiuixt Husband and Father 137 

Vacheron was full of confidence in his luck, but he had not 
foreseen the third alternative which speedily presented itself 
to him. 

He found the gate leading into the Avenue d'Eylau open, 
and he walked rapidly up to the house without paying any 
attention to the cries of the porter who came out of the lodge, 
no doubt taking him for one of the tradespeople, and 
shouted, " What do you want 1 " 

Vacheron did not attempt to stop, and the porter not 
caring to run after him, rang a bell as a signal to those in the 
house that an unknown visitor was approaching. Vacheron 
found an imposing-looking footman standing on the steps, 
having just opened the glazed door that led into the hall, 
and who, looking down upon him with a rather contemptuous 
air, enquired, " Who do you wish to see 1 " 

" I wish to see my daughter," answered the old man, 
calmly. 



CHAPTER XVII 

'twixt husband and father 

The footman looked at him more contemptuously than ever. 
"We have got no daughter of yours here, my good man. 
You have come to the wrong house." 

" My daughter, Mme. de Sartilly," said Vacheron, taking 
a step forward as though to enter the house. 

" Halloa ! a madman ! " cried the footman. 

" I tell you that I am Mme. de Sartilly s father." 

" And I tell you that you shall not come in, and if you 
give me any more of your nonsense I will call a policeman." 

" Aha, you take it that way, do you ; well, we will see." 

The man was tall and strong, but the ex-contractor was all 
muscle ; he grasped the man by the shoulder and twisted 
him violently round, and giving him a punch in the back, 
sent him reeling against the wall. 

" Help ! police ! " cried the fellow. 

Vacheron let him shout ; he knew the way to his daughter's 
room, and he was making his way straight there when he 
heard a woman's voice asking, " What is the matter ? What 
is all this noise about 1 " 

" It is this old buffer who insists on seeing Madame." 

Vacheron, in a great rage, was turning round to give the 
fellow who spoke thus a sound thrashing, when he all at once 
found himself face to face with a woman who had entered 
the hall through a door leading into the garden. She was a 



138 Fickle Heart 

middle-aged -woman, and looked something like a house- 
keeper, but the old man took an instinctive dislike to her at 
once. She was not ugly, and when younger she had no 
doubt been very pretty, but there were the traces of every 
vice imprinted on ber features, and her eyes gleamed with 
malicious light. She had what is termed a regular Old 
Bailey cast of countenance. 

" Who are you, sir ? " asked she. 

" My name is Peter Vacheron," answered the worthy man 
looking her full in the face, " and this, do you understand, 
is my house." 

" This is the Count de Sartilly's house." 

" Not at all ; the house belongs to my daughter." 

The woman's countenance fell. No doubt she was 
better informed than the footman, and knew how matters 
stood. 

" Pardon me, sir," said she. "I have only been a short 
time in Madam e's service, and " 

" Oh ! you are the new maid, are you. "Well, I don't want 
you ; I know the way, so just be off, and that as sharp as 
you like." 

" Pardon me, sir, but my mistress is not at home." 

" I don't believe a word of it ; but if she is out, I will go 
and sit in the little drawing-room until she comes in." 

" You cannot go upstairs, sir." 

" Why not, pray 1" 

" Because the Count has forbidden any visitor to be 
admitted during the absence of the Countess." 

" Well, you can tell him that I compelled you to disobey 
his orders, and if he doesn't like it he can come to me about 
it." 

" The Count is out." 

" Like the ( 'ountess. Well, it seems there are nothing but 
servants here, if I am to believe you. So 1 shall take the place 
of your master, and until they come back I shall go to my 
daughter's room." 

" if you do that, sir, I shall lose my place." 

" Well, I hope so, I am sure. What is your name 1 " 

"Florence, sir, and let me tell that you no one has ever 
treated me as you have dotie before." 

" There must be a beginning to everything ; and now be 
off, for I have seen enough of you." 

" I cannot prevent you from going upstairs, sir, but I shall 
go up with you." 

" By heavens, this is too much," shouted M. Vacheron. 
"We will soon see who is master here. If you venture to 
follow me up, I will throw you over the bannisters." 



'Twixt Husband and Father 139 

The footman now prepared to come forward to the 
assistance of Florence, and the scene, which had hitherto been 
n comic one, might have had a tragic termination, when the 
door leading into the garden opened once more, and Mme. de 
Sartilly appeared on the threshold. Directly she perceived 
her father she rushed up to him, and threw herself into his 
arms. 

" Well, you old fagot, here is my daughter. You will 
prevent my seeing her, will you % Why did you lie to me, 
and say that she was out 1 " 

" I was not aware that my mistress had come in," said the 
woman insolently. 

" You had better say at once that your master had con- 
stituted you her gaoler. And now you may get out. I 
dismiss you." 

" I take no orders from you," growled Florence, who did 
not feel herself strong enough to contend with M. Vacheron, 
and therefore prepared to beat a retreat until she was 
reinforced. 

" Come, father, come with me," pleaded Valentine, 
attempting to lead the old man away. He understood that 
he had been in the wrong, and remembered that he had not 
come to wrangle with his son-in-law's servants. 

" Good," muttered he between his teeth. " Take me to 
your room. If that jade ventures to show her face there, I 
will give her something for herself." With these words he 
commenced ascending the staircase, whilst Florence went oiF 
muttering loud enough to be heard by Valentine, " We shall 
see what the Count will say to all this." 

The footman was a mere subaltern agent, and did not move, 
but his opinion coincided with that of the maid. 

The Countess led her father into the little room in which 
she passed nearly all her time, for she seldom even went into 
the garden, and sank into an arm-chair. 

" How changed you are," exclaimed her father, who up to 
this time had not examined her attentively. 

He spoke the truth. She had grown very thin, her cheeks 
were hollow, and her eyes sparkled with fever ; her father 
could see that her hands trembled as they lay in her lap. 
Vacheron took them in his, and sat down by her side, and 
said quietly, " Thou canst not hide thy sufferings from me 
any longer ; I see them too plainly." 

" I am not ill," murmured she. 

" Be quiet, this man is killing thee by degrees. Things 
cannot go on like this any longer." 

" Father, I assure you that you are mistaken." 

"Why, my poor child, hast thou the face to repeat this to 



140 Fickle Heart 

me again ; why, thou art not even a free woman, and hadst 
thou been at liberty thou wouldst have come and met me 
yesterday at the Pare Monceaux. I waited for thee for 
nearly two hours, and out of mere anger I went up to see 
Henri, who lives just opposite, and there I heard fine things 
about thee, and thy husband.'' 

"Did you call on M. Trevieres," exclaimed Valentine, who 
trembled as her father mentioned the name of the young 
engineer. 

" Yes, and I found him with his arm in a sling. He has 
been fighting with thy husband, and thou knowest it." 

"Yes, I know it." 

" But dost thou know why he fought with him 1 

" Gontran told me " 

" Yes, he tells thee what he likes : but this is the real 
truth. Trevieres was riding through the Rue Ville just, and had 
stopped for a moment to look at thy house. Thy husband 
came up and brutally ordered him to move on, and insulted 
him in the grossest manner. And dost thou dare to tell me 
that thou art not the prisoner of this man % Has he the 
right to prevent people from stopping to look at the fine house 
which thou broughtest to him 1 Does he think for a moment 
that he has gone back to the old feudal times, when the 
peasants were not allowed to go near his house. Yes, yes, 
these grand noblemen used to shut up their wives, and 
Sartilly follows the customs of his ancestors. Thou art 
watched ; any step of thine is spied upon. Lisa, thy former 
maid, told me all " 

" What, have you seen her then. Why, I was expecting 
her yesterday. She had promised to come, and yet she dis- 
appointed me ! " 

" She has taken a situation with the companion who ran 
away from thee, and it is that girl who has sent her to me, 
to tell me that I had no time to lose if I wanted to save thee 
from the clutches of this man ; and therefore, my child, do 
not tell me any fibs, do not invent anything to justify thy 
husband's conduct, but tell me the whole truth. Tell me the 
whole truth." 

Valentine could not reply : she burst into tears, and hid 
her face in her hands. 

"Thou weepest, my child; confess, then, that thou art 
unhappy." 

" Most unhappy," sobbed the Countess, " he loves me no 
more." 

" And he has never loved thee," answered her father, 
coarsely. " He married thee for thy money. He has played 
a nice game with thee, and he would have gone on playing it 



'Twixt Husband and Father 141 

had he hoped to get any more out of thee. But I swear to 
thee that he shall not get a single sou. Therefore, thou mayst 
expect any vile treatment at his hands, for he is a scoundrel, 
and I feel that I should be wanting in a father's duty if I 
left thee at his mercy, and this is the reason that I have come 
to ask thee to come with me to-day." 

" To come with you ! " repeated Valentine in tones of terror 
and amazement. 

" Certainly, and I am going to take thee home with me. 
To-night thou shalt sleep in thine own room, where thou 
used to be before thou wert married ; and I can assure thee, 
that thou wilt find it as thou leftest it before thine accursed 
marriage." 

" But to leave my home, my husband ? Why, do you not 
know that he accuses me of having a lover, and that he has 
the right of taking me back again by legal means." 

" I will prevent his doing so, trust to me. Thou wilt be at 
thy father's house, and I will obtain an injunction from the 
President of the Court, authorising thee to remain there, 
whilst thou art filing thy petition for a divorce ; a petition 
which I tell thee thou wilt gain a verdict on. Thou hast 
sufficient grievances to put forward : the reckless extravagance 
of M. de Sartilly, the scandalous life that he leads. He 
gambles in a manner sufficient to ruin anyone, he has mis- 
tresses " 

" Mistresses, who has told you that ? " 

"lam certain of it. Look you, yesterday, at the races, 
whilst thou wast sitting all alone in thy carriage, he went 
to that Mile, de Ganges, who, after all, is better than I 
thought her. She sent to tell me of him ; he offered her an 
establishment, and then, when she sent him about his busi- 
ness, he offered to marry her, when he was free." 

"If I could only believe it." 

'•' Thou wilt believe it quick enough when thy late com- 
panion tells thee all about it, and thou wilt know it shortly, 
for I have sent a message by TreVieres to her, to let her know 
how pleased I shall be to see her. They say that she is living 
with her lover. What do I care. I shall be glad to see him, 
for he is worth much more than thy husband, and I hope 
that I shall perhaps be able to persuade him to marry her, 
and then thou shalt marry that good fellow Trevieres, whom 
thou knowest I am so fond of." 

" I shall never marry anyone again," answered Valentine. 

" Thou canst do as thou likest about that as long as thou 
wilt dissolve thy marriage with the Count de Sartilly ; and 
now since thou commencest to put faith in my words, and to 
believe that he is the man he is, do not waste any time in 



142 Fickle Heart 

reflection. When once thou hast taken a good step, do not 
hesitate for a moment in carrying it out. Dress thyself, and 
let us go." 

" Will you swear to me that Gontran asked Diana to be his 
mistress ? " 

" Yes, and he offered to marry her as soon as he should 
have got rid of thee. If thou doubtest it, thou hast but to 
confront him with Mile, de Ganges ; but come, thou hast now 
to return home with me. Mind, I distrust thee. This man 
has cast a spell over thee. He rules thee absolutely, and if 
he could only see thee alone for ten minutes, thou wouldst 
alter thy opinion. Come with me, I say." 

Valentine was ready to go with him, for he had wounded 
her to the quick in telling her of the infamous proposals that 
the Count de Sartilly had made to Diana de Ganges. She 
had been able to endure harshness, contempt, and desertion, 
but infidelity was more than she could put ujd with. Diana 
had told her of this whilst she was at Auteuil searching for 
the spot where the duel was to take place, but at that moment 
she was hardly in a state to listen to her friend making 
charges against her husband, when he might be standing 
sword in hand before an adversary. 

But she could not help putting confidence in her father, 
because she remembered what had taken place at the last 
Longchamps races. Her husband had placed her carriage at 
the extreme end of the line, and had abandoned her during 
the whole day, only making his appearance to take her away, 
and during the time occupied by their return home, over- 
whelming her with a flood of bitterly sarcastic remarks. At 
last she understood that her father was in the right, and that 
unless she cast aside all her dignity as a woman, she could no 
longer remain in her husband's house, where she was treated 
with less consideration than a servant. 

" Be quick," said M. Vacheron, " the jade, that I had so 
much trouble in getting rid of, is quite capable of going and 
fetching Sartilly, and I half imagine that he is not far oif." 

The ex-contractor did not know how near he was to the 
truth. The Count had just returned home, and had met on 
the staircase Florence, whom he used as a spy and a gaoler. 
She at once told him the position of affairs, and he did not 
hesitate for a moment as to what course he should pursue. 
He had long foreseen that this must happen, and he knew at 
once what to do to checkmate his father-in-law. Just as 
Valentine was about to go and dress, he threw open the door 
of the room in which she had been talking with her father. 

The old man grew pale with rage, and was about to accost 
liis son-in-law in no measured language, but he was dumb- 



'Ttrixt Husband and Father 143 

founded when M. de Sartilly addressed liiin in the most 
courteous maimer. 

" I did not expect, sir," said lie, " to meet you here, but, 
believe me, I am delighted to see you." 

" Indeed," retorted Vacheron, with an angry look. " Well, 
my feelings are entirely opposite, and had I expected to meet 

you " 

"You would not have come, and I assure you that I should 
have deeply regretted it, for 1 wanted for some time back to 
have an explanation with you, an explanation, which, believe 
me, is indispensable, and, my dear Valentine, it is one which 
I should wish you to hear. Will you, therefore, do me the 
kindness to remain." 

"She won't remain here long," interrupted Vacheron, who 
was not much mollified by this commencement. " I came 
here to take her away with me, and it is time that I should 
do so." 

" Valentine is perfectly at liberty to go with you whenever 
you desire it." 

" Why did you prevent my seeing her then 1 '' 
" How can you have picked up such an idea 1 I never ask 
where she goes, and I have always thought that she went to 
see you regularly- Certainly, I do not go with her, but it 
was for the reason that I did not think my visits were agree- 
able to you " 

" And you were not mistaken. But this is enough useless 
trash. You make my daughter very unhappy, and I will not 
let you do so any longer 1 " 

"And you are perfectly right in doing so, but do you never 
think that I, too, am very unhappy ? " 

" You, why, are you going to complain 1 I had never thought 
of that. You, who have treated her as a mere slave ? You, 
who spend her fortune on your mistresses ? " 

" Here is a flood of accusations," answered the Count de 
Sartilly, with a smile. " Will you permit me to answer these 
seriatim." 

"Yes, justify yourself if you can. Do you dare to deny 
that you have my daughter watched, watched by that old 
witch that you have picked up the Lord knows where 1 " 

" Do you mean Florence 1 she was for ten j ears with 
one of my friends, and I hope that she has never given my 
dear Valentine any cause of complaint. If I thought that 
she had done so, I would dismiss her at once. But I was 
compelled to send the other maid away, because she was 
behaving in a way that could not be tolerated in any respect- 
able family." 
M. Vacheron looked at Valentine, waiting for her to speak, 



144 Fickle Heart 

but she did not say a word. She kept her eyes upon her 
husband who did not appear in aDy way moved, and who 
answered tranquilly : " And now, sir, you accuse me of 
ruining my wife, but surely you must agree that this would 
be difficult, as her money is settled on herself." 

" Yes, and lucky it is for her, but still that does not pre- 
vent your borrowing." 

" I have not forgotten what I owe you, sir, and that you 
last year advanced me some money, which I shall return to 
you before two months are over " 

" I can do without it, and I never calculated on your pay- 
ing me again ; it was to my daughter that I gave this money, 
but for all that, if you are ready to pay, you may do so. It is 
not very long since you sent Valentine to me to borrow the 
double of those one hundred and fifty thousand francs, 
which you had lost at the gambling table, or in betting, 
which are after all the same thing." 

"Because I wished to join a really business-like undertak- 
ing, and at that moment I had not funds at my disposal. 
But I have since been able to procure them, and I hope very 
shortly to realise a handsome dividend." 

" All the better for you, for it will enable you to go about 
with your women, but I don't think your wife will take much 
pleasure in your successful operations. Ask her what she 
thinks,'' said the old man looking earnestly at his daughter. 

Again Valentine remained silent. She did not seem much 
inclined to support her father. 

" Will you tell me, sir," said Gontran, with an ironical sneer, 
" who the ladies are, whose expenses I am in the habit of 
defraying ?" 

" Do you think I am acquainted with such cattle as that ? 
But I can tell you the name of a young woman whom you 
made overtures to yesterday." 

" Ah, now I understand what you are driving at ! you are 
speaking of my wife's late companion. Yes, I chanced to 
see her yesterday atLongchamps,and she had the impertinence 
to call me to her, and I was foolish enough to talk with her 
for a few moments, for I was seized with a certain amount 
of curiosity. This young lady disappeared one fine night, 
and I did not positively know what had become of her. For 
a time I was, I confess, a little doubtful, but I was soon 
placed in a position of certainty, for when her lover came up, 
she had the audacity to introduce me to him." 

" She says something more than that." 

" I am not at all surprised that she has dressed up the 
story according to her own fancy. My interview did not 
last five minutes, and I am astonished, sir, that you have put 



'Tivixt Husband and Father 145 

any faith in Mile, de Ganges' statements — a woman of good 
birth, and who might have maintained a good position in 
society, bvit who has with the most complete audacity plunged 
headlong into a course of vice. The manner in which she 
has spoken to you, and to others, is the natural result of her 
own inexcusable conduct. She has attacked me, to ward off 
attacks upon herself. She is playing her own game, and I 
have no wish to interfere in it ; but should my wife believe 
in the calumnies that this lost woman sets about concerning 
me, I shall be deeply grieved." 

" No, no, I do not believe them," murmured Valentine. 
" What," said M. Vacheron, " you support your husband ! 

To a, who just now " 

" Pardon me, sir," broke in the Count, " but my wife has 
had reasons — indeed, she has a right to complain of me." 
" Ah, you confess it then 1 " 

" Certainly I do, but still I have a right to endeavour to 
justify myself before her, and it is for that reason that I have 
joined you here, only perhaps with her I should not have 
pleaded my cause as I now intend to do. You are Valentine's 
father and can be my judge. Certainly she has grave cause 
of complaint against me. I know that I have kept away 
from her, that 1 have sometimes spoken harshly to her, that 
I have put on an air of disdain, and indifference ; and my 
excuse is — I have but one, that I have been madly jealous of 
her, and am so still." 

" Do you venture to assert that my daughter has given you 
any cause for jealousy 1" 

" Will you listen to me to the end ? You shall give judg- 
ment after you have heard what I have to say, and I hope 
that my wife will understand me. My jealousy dates from 
some time back, and it has induced me to commit more than 
one fault as I allow, more especially one of a recent date, 
which I expect my wife to pardon me. She knows to what I 
refer.'' He evidently alluded to the nocturnal visit of George 
Cezambre, and Sartilly knew well the impression he would 
make on his wife by recalling this to her memory. It was 
as though he had openly said to Valentine " I am sure that 
that man was not your lover, and I was wrong to accuse you 
as I did." She was but too well disposed to pardon him, and 
Gontran like a skilful strategist was rapidly bringing her over 
to his side, as he continued speaking with an affectation of 
deep emotion : " Permit me to remind you, sir, that you were 
desirous of your daughter's contracting another alliance, and it 
was not your fault that she did not marry M. Trevieres." 

" And she would have been a thousand times happier had 
she done so," muttered Vacheron. 



146 Fickle Heart 

" That is a question for her to decide," replied Sartilly, with 
a smile. " Let me conclude my confession. I had no fear of 
this rival, but as you can imagine, I did not like him. How- 
ever I had almost forgotten him until one night last winter 
I met him at a ball given by the Marchioness de Muire, 
and Valentine danced frequently with him — ah, now that I 
reflect calmly I can see that she could not help treating her 
father's friend courteously, but then I was seized with a 
furious fit of jealousy, which however quickly passed away. 
Valentine can remember it, and this was followed by several 
others. I concealed them from my wife, and I have now 
told her that I hated this man Trevieres with a deadly hatred ; 
but for all that, she has been the victim of my bad temper, 
but had I not loved her so much, she would never have had 
reason to complain of me." 

" Enough of this," said Vacheron, angrily. " Tell these tales 
to someone else, Count, for had you loved my daughter you 
would never have behaved to her as you have. You deserted 
her, you shut her up, and now you come and tell me that 
you worship her. Worship her a little less, and make her a 
little more happy. As for your jealousy, you have had 
plenty of time to cure yourself of that, for my daughter has 
proved to you that she has nothing to reproach herself with. 
You have fought a duel with poor Trevieres and wounded 
him, having fixed a groundless quarrel upon him, and now 
what more do you want ? " 

" Valentine's pardon," answered Sartilly, with emotion. 

The Countess made a movement as though she would 
throw herself into her husband's arms, but her father 
interposed between them. " First earn that pardon," said he ; 
" It is not sufficient to say that you repent, you must 
prove it." 

" How can I do so ? " 

" First, by granting her perfect liberty, instead of shutting 
her up here. Let her come and stay with me and I will not 
prevent you seeing her." 

" We should run the chance of meeting your friend M. 
Trevieres." 

" And if you did so, you know well enough that he is a 
worthy good fellow, that Valentine is a virtuous woman, and 
that I should not suffer anything wrong to take place be- 
neath our roof. I should think that you could manage to pass 
through a few months of trial. Alter yourself, both in her eyes 
and mine. Begin by leading a new life. Leave your gambling, 
betting, and running after other women. Dissolve your 
partnership with your friend Saint Senier. In a word, if 
you desire forgiveness, come back to the right road. I do not 



'Twirt Husband and Father 147 

treat you with harshness, and Valentine, I fear, is too kind 
to you. But if you do not change your mode of life, she will 
sue for a divorce, and obtain it too, Count, for even the 
world in which you live has not too favourable an opinion of 
you, and the Court will express the same feeling, as the public 
has already given . 

" Should my wife take such an extreme step, I shall not 
defend the case." 

" In that case it would be because you had something 
better in view. But even if you like it, we could come to 
some amicable arrangement on the point of a divorce. We 
can obtain one much more easily, when both parties are 
agreed on the subject." 

" You have not understood my meaning, sir. I most 
ardently desire to remain married, for one sole reason, which 
you well know — I love my wife, and if the calumnies which 
people spread about prove too much for me, and the judge 
misled by false statements, decides against me, I shall 
enter no protest against the justice of the decision, but I 
shall leave the country, and Valentine will never hear of me 
again." 

She drank in his every word, and gazed on him with eager 
eyes, in which he could read his pardon, and the unhappy 
father began to see that he would be worsted in this strife, 
and would never be able to convince his daughter of her 
husband's sinister designs. For a moment he thought he had 
gained the day, but the victory escaped from his hands, for 
he was no match for a consummate actor and fair speaker, 
like the Count. He would not however yield at once. " If," 
resumed he, " you are so much against a divorce, why did 
you yesterday at the races offer to marry Mile, de Ganges 1 " 

" If she has made such a statement, she is worse even than 
I had thought her," answered the Count, without moving a 
muscle. " The girl lies, and the falsehood is of so gross a 
nature that no one could be taken in by it. I appeal to 
Valentine if she believes it ? " 

" No, I do not believe it," answered Valentine, raising her 
head proudly. 

" Ah ! " exclaimed Vacheron, " I came here to save thee 
and thou desertest me. Between the father who asserts, and 
the husband who denies, thou decidest in favour of the latter. 
Dost thou want to drive me to despair ? " 

Mme. de Sartilly made no reply to this vehement adjura- 
tion, and the old man continued passionately : " And to 
defend thee I overcame the dislike with which thy perse- 
cutor inspired me. I braved the insults of his servants, and 
entered a house in which I had sworn, never again to set my 



148 Fickle Heart 

foot ; and when I endeavour to draw thee away from his 
evil influence thou refusest to follow me. All that remains 
for thee now is to expel thy father from beneath thy roof ; 
but I will spare thee that shame, for I will go away, and 
thou shalt never see me more." 

Valentine had been confused by Gontran's address, but 
overcome by the emotions that this scene had aroused in her 
bosom, she was about to throw herself into her father's 
arms, when by an expressive gesture he arrested her impulse, 
saying firmly, " No, thou must choose betweenhim or me ; to go 
with me or to remain with him. If thou hesitatest it is 
because thou art not decided to break this accursed marriage. 
I cannot compel thee to do so. Thou art rushing headlong 
to destruction, and one day thou wilt bitterly regret not 
having listened to me. Then it will be too late, for I will 
never come back again. I can do nothing for thee, I can 
only avenge thee, if fatal consequences ensue." With these 
words, and paying no attention to the entreaties of his 
daughter, he rushed from the room. Valentine remained 
motionless, rooted to the spot. M. de Sartilly followed his 
father-in-law on to the staircase, to make sure that he had 
really gone. He escorted him with all courtesy to the front 
door, without taking any notice of the furious aspect of M. 
Vacheron, who more than once turned round like a wild boar 
at bay, and muttered curses which his son-in-law affected not 
to hear. 

Gontran, thus left master of the field, at once had an inter- 
view with Florence, who re-appeared at the other end of the 
hall, and gave her some orders, which must have been 
important ones, for the old harridan put on a grave ex- 
pression when she heard them, and then, as soon as this 
rapid colloquy was over, the Count hurried back to his wife 
to profit by the victory that he had once more gained. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

A RACING MEPHISTOPHELES 

Meanwhile, the unhappy father, after his signal defeat, 
walked rapidly along the Avenue d'Eylau, gesticulating 
violently, and muttering half aloud, projects of vengeance. 
He was walking along, his eyes bent on the ground, and 
never heard the sound of a carriage which was coming up 
rapidly behind him. He had just reached the end of the 
avenue, when repeated shouts of " Hi ! hi ! " aroused him 
from his gloomy meditations. He turned round quickly, 



A Bating Mephistopheles 149 

saw a horse's head almost touching him, endeavoured to 
throw himself on one side, stumbled, and after a vain 
effort to recover himself, fell at full length on the roadway. 
Had not the coachman thrown the horses on their haunches, 
the ex-contractor would have been killed on the spot, but 
fortunately the carriage stopped in time, and the hoofs of 
the two bay horses did not strike him, whilst the wheel only 
grazed him slightly. The fall, however, had been a severe 
one, and Vacheron would have been unable to gain his feet 
alone. A crowd at once collected, as it invariably does in a 
similar case, but no one was prompt in assisting the fallen 
man. Diana de Ganges and George Cezambre were the 
occupants of the victoria which had been the cause of the 
accident. Both sprang out to his aid, and when the old man, 
dazed and giddy from his fall, returned to consciousness, the 
first object that met his eyes was the face of his daughter's 
late companion. He had not met her for a long time, but 
he had an excellent memory for faces, and besides, at the 
very moment of the accident, he was thinking of her. The 
idea of utilising this chance meeting at once occurred to 
him, and his first action was to release himself from the 
little crowd that had gathered round him. 

" Come, let me get away," said he shaking the dust from 
his clothes, " you see that I am not hurt ; besides the lady 
and gentleman are friends of mine." The lookers-on slowly 
dispersed, and Vacheron sank down on a bench by the 
side of Diana, whilst George stood in front to screen them 
from the eyes of a few of the more curious amongst the 
bystanders, who still lingered. 

" You are not hurt, I trust, sir ? " asked Diana. 

" No, no, there is nothing broken, and I am very pleased to 
see you. I sent to Auteuil " 

" Yes, M. de Trevieres — we have just left him, and were 
going to your house. This gentleman is my friend M. 
Cezambre." 

" I know, Lisa told me " 

" She has remained behind at the villa awaiting our orders. 
M. Trevieres is coming back by the train. You will see him 
this evening. He told us that you had left him to go to 
Mme. de Sartilly." 

" I have just come from there. I have seen her " 

" Well ? " 

" She is lost. I had persuaded her to come with me, when 
her husband entered the room. I reproached him face to 
face with his conduct, but he denied everything. He was 
full of fine phrases and sentimental sayings, and swore that 
he loved bar, but that jealousy had nearly driven him mad,'' 



150 Fickle Heart 

" He, jealous ? Why, a man must have some heart to be 
jealous." 

" Yes, jealous of TreVieres. According to his own account 
it was that which induced him to challenge him. And Valen- 
tine listened to it all, and believed in his oaths and his 
repentance. I endeavoured to take her away with me, but 
she would not come. I warned her of the fate that awaited 
her, and she seemed not to understand me. I asked her to 
choose between her father and her husband, declaring that 
if she decided against me I would never set foot in her house 
again — and she permitted me to go away ! " 

" And she has remained there at the mercy of that villain. 
You are right, sir : she is lost if those who love her do not 
come to her aid. It is evident that you cannot intervene 
further, but I can still- act, and I have a plan of my own, for 
I had foreseen that she would refuse to shake off the yoke of 
this wretch. He has cast a spell over her, and we must save 
her in spite of herself." 

" What do you intend to do 1 " 

" I will tell you all at your own house. Get into our 
carriage, the Rue de la Neva is close at hand, we shall be 
there in five minutes, and then I will lay my plans before you. 
I know from M. Trevieres that you have forgiven me for 
having acted as I have done, and the fondest hope of my 
heart is to show my gratitude by restoring your daughter to 
you. We will have a long talk, and George shall go and wait 
for me at the Pavilion d 1 Armenonville where we are going to 
dine." 

This arrangement was at once agreed upon. Vacheron was 
only too glad to consult with his new ally, who apparently 
did not yet despair of rescuing Valentine from the clutches 
of her oppressor, whilst as for George he never resisted a 
wish that his beloved Diana expressed, and this time the wish 
was almost a request. 

In Paris there are a number of summer dining places 
which rely upon attracting diners-out in fine weather, and 
this in a city where it rains nine months out of the twelve. 
They abound in the Champs Elysees, and in the Bois de 
Boulogne, without counting those beyond the barrier, and 
they do a very fair business, for often there is quite a 
demand for tables. One fine season repays them for four bad 
ones. And this season the spring had been an early one 
Everything was in blossom, the horse-chestnut trees had' 
already began to throw out their coronetted flowers, and the 
women to put on summer costumes. To enjoy this delightful 
weather so appreciated by lovers, Diana and George finding 
themselves obliged to leave the villa for a few hours, had 



A Racing Mephistophehs 151 

determined to dine at the Pavilion d'Armenonville, after 
having seen M. Vacheron. Upon the lirst words uttered by M. 
Trevieres when he arrived at the villa, under the guidance of 
Lisa, Mile, de Ganges had ordered the carriage to be got 
ready. Valentine's father required her aid, and she did not 
for a moment hesitate to obey his summons. George had 
asked to be permitted to accompany her, for he had now 
enrolled himself as one of Mme. de Sartilly's staunchest 
defenders. The accident in the Place de l'Etoile had altered 
the ai'rangement that Diana had made, and she now thought 
it best to have a private conference with M. Vacherou. The 
two lovers therefore separated for a time, and whilst Diana's 
victoria rolled quickly to the Rue de la Neva, George 
began to walk in the direction of the Bois de Boulogne. Me 
went on his way leisurely, for it was hardly rive o'clock and 
he was ignorant how long Diana would be engaged with M. 
Vacheron. He did not know exactly where the restaurant 
was at which they were to dine, and chancing the direction, 
he turned down the Avenue de la Grande Armee, until he 
came to the Porte Maillot. Without knowing it, he had 
come the shortest way, and he had scarcely entered the Bois, 
by the Longchamps road, than he saw down a side turning 
the sign of the Pavilion d'Armenonville. He went in, and 
engaged a private room on the first floor. The weather was 
fine enough to have dined in the open air, but the night 
soon closes in in April ; Diana might be detained, and would 
perhaps not care about being exposed to the chilliness of the 
evening. George had nothing to do whilst waiting for her, 
and to pass away the time, he walked round the little lake 
that lies in front of the building. There were some tables 
ready laid, on the lawn, but no one had yet taken possession 
of them, and the proprietor of the establishment was con- 
sulting his weather-glass to see if he might depend upon the 
fine weather to enable him to reap a plentiful harvest that 
evening. 

But George's mind was filled with other thoughts. He 
thought of his adored Diana, of the unfortunate Valen- 
tine, and of the insolent Count de Sartilly, the common 
enemy of them all, and against whom it was necessary to do 
battle, and he asked himself how the campaign that they 
were about to open would finish. His noble disposition had 
impelled him to enter heart and soul into the fray, but there 
were moments when he regretted the happy calm of those 
sweet hours which he had spent in the Villa PrimevtSres two 
months ago. Now they were going to plunge into war, with 
with all its vicissitudes and disquietudes, and with all its 
varied chances of defeat or success, for this husband against 



152 Fickle Heart 

whom they were about to fight was well able to defend 
himself, and would spare no one. The Countess even 
might range herself against them, for Gontran could do 
with her what he liked, and might turn her against her old 
friend, who would not be supported by the opinion of the 
world, for Gontran in spite of all his social defects still 
maintained his rank and standing, and could cause much 
trouble and annoyance to his wife's late companion. 

Plunged in these unpleasant reflections, George arrived at 
the extremity of the lake, and to ponder more at his ease he 
sat down on a bank close to a clump of trees which almost 
formed a species of thicket. There were many narrow and 
winding paths about the grounds formed for the convenience 
of the visitors to the restaurant, who wandered up and down 
them before, and after dinner. George were not therefore 
much surprised to hear at the back of the little shrubbery 
near which he was seated, two men's voices in close conver- 
sation. They were walking to and fro as they conversed, 
and every now and then they stopped for a few moments, 
and then resumed their promenade. They came nearer and 
nearer, and at last sat down, as he could hear from the 
grating of the legs of the chairs on the gravel, and they were 
now so close that George could not help hearing their con- 
versation. They were talking English, and George who had 
been born and brought up in the Mauritius, which has 
belonged to England since 1815, understood perfectly what 
they were saying, but he would have paid no attention to 
their conversation had not the words "My Lord Count'" 
struck upon his ear. Certainly this was but a vague clue, 
for Counts are numerous in Paris, but a man concerning 
whom George had thought frequently of late, bore this title, 
and a presentiment crossed his mind that he was mixed up 
in this matter. 

" My dear William Oxwall," said one of the voices. 

George recollected to have heard this name before, he 
could not remember where. " My dear Oxwall," continued 
the same voice still speaking in grammatical English, 
but with a slight French accent. " Surely I have put you in 
the way of gaining enough money for the last five years, 
for you to give me credit for two months." 

" I would willingly do so," returned the other speaker who 
was evidently an Englishman, "but I am utterly unable to do 
so. It was yesterday that cleared me out. I dropped twelve 
thousand pounds on one horse." 

" Parbleu, I know that, it was on Black Radish — you laid 
ninety to one against him. What the deuce made you run, 
such a rjsk ? " 



A Racing Mcphistophcles 153 

" I was regularly humbugged by a false tip, and yet I got 
it from the stable where he was trained." 

" Saint Senier had better information than you, for he 
backed the horse for a thousand louis ; you ought to know 
that he never bets except on a certainty." 

" I hedged at once, but the harm was done, and I made 
nothing on the other races. All the favourites came in, and 
a confounded outsider like Black Radish cost me three 
hundred thousand francs. It is a complete smash up." 

"Not more so than mine, for I managed to drop four 
thousand louis in the same race, in which my partner made 
ten thousand, but I shall pick myself up in three weeks, for 
our two-year-old Snowflake will certainly win the Grand 
Produce Stakes." 

"I am convinced of it, my lord, perfectly sure of it, I may say." 

"Well, I shall put so much money on him, that I shall 
square myself at one shot." 

" I do not know so much about that, my lord, your horse 
is so certain to be a winner that I wouldn't lay against him 
at any price. I don't know what the other bookmakers will 
do, but I will lay you what you like that neither Saffery nor 
Wright, who always give the best odds to backers, will take 
less than four to one against Snowflake, if they do that ; so 
you won't pull yourself through by Snowflake. If you are two 
hundred and fifty thousand francs to the bad,and that is a mere 
supposition on my part, for you only owe me eighty thousand, 
you must, if you want to get square, risk a million, and that 
is a sum that no bookmaker will lay you, on tick at least." 

A silence ensued. George now knew who the speakers 
were. The name of William Oxwall which had from the first 
appeared familiar to him, was the name of the bookmaker 
to whom Saint Senier had introduced him, and the unlucky 
backer could be no other than the Count de Sartilly, who it 
now appeared was more hopelessly ruined than even his 
father-in-law had thought. What a terrible future was 
looming for the unfortunate Valentine. 

The Englishman broke the silence. " You see, Count, 
that I cannot agree with you in your hopes. Nor can I wait 
for my money any longer, and that was the reason that I 
ventured to write to you, to ask you to meet me in this out- 
of-the-way corner of the Bois, at a time when we were not 
likely to meet anyone. You will do me the justice to remember 
thaTT refrained from calling on you at your house. In a 
case like this one must be most discreet, and I am so well known 
everywhere, that were I to be seen entering your house the 
report would get about that you owed me money, or what 
would be worse again, that we were confederates," 



154 Fickle Heart 

" Yes, I knew that I could trust you, and therefore I kept 
the appointment. But we are as yet no further advanced 
than if I had remained at home. I have told you before, and 
I repeat it again, that I am utterly cleared out. The racing 
stable that i started with M. de Saint Senier, has taken 
away all my available cash. At my clubs I do nothing but 
lose. I owed you money before, and since yesterday I am in 
with you deeper still. I had expected to pay you after the 
Produce Stakes had been run for, but you have shown me 
that my calculations are based on a wrong point, and that I 
have been buoying myself up with a vain hope. I suppose 
that you are right, but what am I to do 1 If you can't give 
me time, you can give me advice." 

" Advice ! You flatter me, Count. I should never venture 
to offer advice to a gentleman in your position. Only if you 
ask me, I will tell you that there is perhaps a method by 
which we can get through our trouble, I say we, because if 
you can't pay me, I may as well burn my books, and chuck 
up the whole concern." 

" Tell me your idea, and if it is a practicable one, be sure 
I shan't hesitate for a moment in adopting it." 

" It is a moral certainty, but you may not care to go in 
for it." 

" Tell me what it is, at any rate." 

" Well, Count, suppose your colt, Snowflake, which is cer- 
tain to win, should lose '? " 

" I don't understand you,'' answered the Count, after a 
pause. 

" Yet it is the simplest thing in the world," continued 
Oxwall. " Snowflake will start as first favourite, I am cer- 
tain of that, and so are you. The odds will be at least 
three to one on him, perhaps they may be four to one, and 
as he is certain to come in first, the betting will be heavy, 
all the backers will put their money on your horse." 

" As I shall do ; I have already backed him for fifteen 
hundred louis, with Saffery." 

" A mere trifle, which will only bring you in ten thousand 
francs if Snowflake comes in first ; but suppose, on the 
other hand, that he is beaten '(" 

" I shall certainly lose thirty thousand, and I don't see 
any advantage to me in that." 

"But I shall get a tremendous pull. I will lay odds 
against him, the other bookmakers won't dare do the same, 
and, in a word, I may make a million on the Grand Produce 
Stakes if Snowflake doesn't run to win." 

" Do you intend to be generous enough to share this mil- 
lion with me ? " asked Sartilly, ironically, 



A Iiacing Mephistophelas 155 

" No, you are a gentleman, and wouldn't take it if I offered 
it to you ; but I tell you what I will do, I will let you off 
what you owe me. Besides, there is nothing to prevent your 
laying against him." 

" Laying against my own horse 1 " 

"Certainly, of course you won't do it yourself, but I will 
undertake to get it done for you by an agent, who will hand 
over to me the winnings minus a commission. This sort of 
thing is done every day." 

" But, my good fellow, you are going on the supposition 
that Snowflake will be beaten, and yet you have just asserted 
that he is bound to win. Tell me what you want more 
plainly." 

" Snowflake will win easily if he is allowed to do so." 

" I am still in the dark." 

" Well, look here, suppose, for instance, he was to get ill." 

" If he did so it would be known at once, and no one 
would back him.'' 

" Suppose it happened the night before the race, and no 
one was a bit the wiser until he came to the starting-post, 
not a soul, not even the jockey who rode him." 

" Such illnesses don't exist, and never occur. The devil 
would require to mix himself up to bring about such a 
thing." 

"The devil will, with a little help from some one." 

The Count gave a slight shudder, and looked keenly at 
the bookmaker, who sustained his searching glance without 
a sign of flinching. 

" In plain words, then," said Sartilly, " you propose to 
give my horse some drug which will prevent his winning 1 " 

" I know of one that would infallibly do so, and, what is 
better, no one will perceive it. The horse will come to the 
post in good condition. He will make a good start. When 
the flag has been dropped he will go well for some fifty yards, 
and then begin to relax his pace. His jockey will try to 
hustle him along, and he will make a fresh effort, but in 
vain, he will seem to be going to sleep, and, in point of fact, 
he will shut up completely before he gets to the distance 
post." 

" Have you ever, during your long career as a bookmaker, 
played this pretty little game lucratively ? " 

'• To anyone else, my lord, I should say no, indignantly, 
but I have nothing to hide from you. I have done it two 
or three times in England ; last year, for instance, at 
Doncaster." 

" Ah, then you managed to persuade an owner of race- 
horses to 1 " 



156 Fickle Heart 

" Yes, he owed me a pot of money, and roped his horse in 
order to pay me ; he was a lord, too. He laid against his 
own horse, and made sixty thousand guineas, and I nearly as 
much." 

"Well, but I suppose after this honourable proceeding he was 
warned off the course, and forbidden to enter ahorse again?" 

" Not a bit of it. There was a little fuss about it, and 
some of his friends cut him, but he soon picked up others, 
and there were plenty ready to say that he had been precious 
sharp. Besides, Count, you know that in England we take 
matters easier than you do in France. For instance, you 
recollect the other day at Longchamps, the judge made a 
mistake, and gave a horse as the winner who had come in a 
bad second. What a disturbance there was. Well, now, in 
England, when a mistake of this kind occurs, which is not 
infrequent, no one says a word, or thinks of abusing the 
judge. There is no appeal from his decision, and it is always 
looked on as final." 

" Yes, that is all right, but to poison a horse which is 
bound to win, and then to lay against it, is sheer robbery, 
at least it is called so on this side of the Channel, and I expect 
that it is pretty much the same on the other." 

" You use too strong language for a trifling offence like 
that. All sorts of dodges are permissible in racing. How 
often does it happen that a trainer lets it leak out, with the 
concurrence, of course, of his master, that all the money of 
the stable has been put on one horse, whereas he is only 
meant to make the running for another, who has been 
largely backed." 

"Yes, but that is a less scandalous proceeding than the 
one that you have proposed to me." 

" Why less scandalous? the result is the same, the end is 
the same in one case as in another. It is betting on a cer- 
tainty, that is all." 

" In all countries, and in all languages, it is called 
swindling." 

" Really, Count, you exaggerate matters. Nowhere is it 
forbidden to make the most of your opportunities. And I 
know many gentlemen who, if they wei'e placed in the same 
position as you are, would not hesitate for a moment ; 
besides, what I propose is simple." 

" I should like to know what the drug is that can send a 
horse to sleep like this. I suppose if I was to pour it over 
poor Snowflake's hay he would not touch it." 

" I should think not, indeed ; but if, when he was feeding, 
you put a few grains of prepared poppy seed into his mouth 
in a certain way, I would go bail that he would swallow 



A Racing McphistOphcles 157 

them. Only it must be done a few hours before the race, but 
it is too delicate a job to be confided to the lad that looks 
after him." 

" If a gentleman sank low enough to do such a thing, he 
would certainly not take his groom into his confidence. Bat 
where could he procure such a preparation as you speak of, 
the effects of which are so sure 1 " 

" He has only to come to me. I know the receipt, and he 
would not be obliged to go to a chemist's to have it made up, 
for I have some of the grain, properly seasoned, always 
about me." 

" By Jove, Mr. Oxwall, you are a man of precaution." 

" You see, Count, in my profession we must be ready for 
any chances that may turn up. In our life we are ruined one 
day, and rolling in money the next, so that it is only natural 
that I should try by all means in my power to defend my 
money, and there are times when I can only do so by going a 
little off the course. But I take all the responsibility of my 
acts. Suppose, for instance, that Snowflake fell ill at the 
right moment, is it likely that a man of the Count de Sar- 
tilly's rank and position would be suspected ? Certainly not. 
And if, by a yet more impossible chance, there should be an 
inquiry into the matter, they would find that it was I, who 
had had the prescription made up. However, I think that 
the preparation is unknown in France." 

" Happily so." 

" I have a bottle of it about me. Would you like to see it ! " 

" To see it, certainly ; but as to making use of it, that is 
another affair." 

' ' Here it is, Count," returned Oxwall, drawing from his 
pocket a parcel, in which was a very small bottle similar to 
those used for holding homoeopathic globules. 

The bottle was filled with small black grains not larger 
than a pin's head, which the bookmaker shook up under 
Contrail's very eyes. "Take it with you, Count," said he, 
with an impudent grin, " and try it on one of your carriage 
horses, then have him put into harness, and see if he can go." 

" Thank you, my carriage horses are all worth about five 
hundred louis each, and I don't want any of them poisoned." 

" You need fear nothing of that kind. The horse will be 
knocked up for, perhaps, forty-eight hours, but at the end of 
that time he will be in as good condition as ever." 

" I shouldn't like to believe you on oath, and so I will con- 
fiscate this bottle to prevent your making a bad use of it." 

Oxwall looked steadily at the Count, whose eyes did not 
sink before the scrutinising gaze of the bookmaker. 
The two men understood each other. 



158 Fickle Heart 

"As you please, 1 ' said the bookmaker, "at least, I do not 
pretend to influence you. All gentlemen have certain pre- 
judices, which I respect. All I ask of you, Count, is to 
let me know your decision a few days before the Produce 
Stakes are run for, the evening before will do, if that will 
suit you, but I must have time to turn round in. If Snow- 
flake is to win, I must manage matters accordingly. Only I 
hope that you will permit me to look to you for the money 
you owe me, on the day he wins, as I shall be unable to get 
on without it." 

" You shall hear from me in good time," answered M. 
Sartilly, pocketing the bottle. "And now let us separate. 
People are so uncharitable that they must not see us in con- 
ference together. Carriages are beginning to arrive, and I 
am expecting my wife, as we had arranged to dine together 
at the Pavilion d'Armenonville." 

Oxwall, doubtless, lost no time in making his farewell ; but 
George Cdzambre, who had not missed a word of this dialogue, 
got up hurriedly and left the spot, for he did not wish to meet 
M. de Sartilly, and was most anxious to see Diana and tell 
her all that he had learned with as little delay as possible. 
" And so this is the fine gentleman who looked so con- 
temptuously at me yesterday at Longchamps," muttered 
George to himself as walked hurriedly to the Pavilion, 
where, however, he did not intend to make any stay. " He 
is going to join with a bookmaker to rob the backers who 
believe that his horse is going to win. He is going to sink to 
the lowest pitch of degradation. He is an utter blackguard." 
His object now was to avoid meeting the Count de Sartilly, 
who would not leave the place as he was expecting his wife, 
and at the same time not to miss Mile, de Ganges, who could 
not be much longer in coming, for the conversation between 
the two plotters had been of some duration, and it was nearly 
seven o'clock. 

The sun was already setting, much to the satisfaction of 
George, who ran less risk of being recognised. He went 
some little distance on the road to Longchamps, having 
determined to wait there for Diana, so as not to let her come 
up openly to the restaurant, where the Count and Countess 
were going to dine. Five minutes after he had taken up 
his position Diana made her appearance, Domingo, in a 
gorgeous livery, driving the victoria. 

" Get in," said Mile, de Ganges, " and I will drive you to 
the restaurant." 

" No," answered George, " do you get down. I have much 
to say to you, and when you have heard it, I do not think 
you will any longer desire to drive there," 



A .Racing Mephistopheles 159 

Mile, de Ganges complied at once with his request, and 
followed her lover to the side of the road. 

" What is the matter?" asked she. 

" The Count de Sartilly is here, he is expecting his wife, 
and they are to dine alone together." 

" Ah ! the unhappy girl, she has again yielded to his 
supremacy. Once more she has put faith in his fine words 
and honeyed promises. M. Vacheron was present when he 
lirst began to spread his nets to take her in. She refused to 
follow her father, and remained alone with her husband, who 
continued to play the game of reconciliation. Is it to com- 
plete the web of the spider that he has appointed this 
meeting-place ? ' His foot is on his native heath,' for he has 
often brought his mistresses to dine here. They will take 
their meal in a private room, he will sing of love to her in 
every possible key, and will soon succeed in turning her head 
entirely, and be sure that he would not take so much trouble 
had he not something to gain from her weakness." 

"It is a question of money doubtless, for he was just now 
in consultation with a bookmaker, to whom he owes a large 
sum of money, and who proposes to him to get quits by 
aiding him in a disgraceful turf swindle, and the villain has 
accepted the proposition." 

" I should have been much surprised had he not done so. 
"What I want is to rescue Valentine from his clutches. Time 
is going on : for he will gain her heart once more during 
dinner, and heaven only knows what he will attempt when 
he has entirely bewitched her again. M. Vacheron has given 
me the fullest powers to act, and I am resolved to begin this 
very night. I have arranged with Lisa, who will be of the 
greatest help to me. M. Trevieres offered his aid, but for 
reasons that you can understand I declined it. You shall take 
his place." 

" With the greatest pleasure. What have I to do ? " 

" Hardly anything. You cannot appear, from motives 
similar to those which prevent M. Trevieres doing so ; but 
you may, perhaps, be obliged to represent the element of 
physical force. You shall be the reserve division of our 
little army." 

" You are going on a dangerous expedition ? " 

" A difficult one, certainly, and I count upon you. Do'not ask 
me any more at present. I will explain all to you at dinner, 
for I am going to take you to Le Doyens in the Champs 
Elysees ; we shall not get so much fresh air, but we shall not 
have the chance of finding ourselves face to face with this man, 
for should he see us, he will certainly have a suspicion 
that we have come to interfere with his villainous designs. 



160 Ficlcle Heart 

" I agree with you that it would be as well not to remain 
here." 

They once more got into the carriage, and Domingo on 
receiving an order from George turned the horses' heads 
towards the Porte Maillot, almost at the same moment that 
Mme. de Sartilly, coming from the Porte Dauphine, drove 
out of one of the side roads in the Avenue de Longchamps. 



CHAPTER XIX 

A DREAM 

Gontrax was waiting for his wife in front of the restaurant, 
and gave her his hand to aid her in alighting from the 
carriage, with all the grace of a fond lover. 

For Valentine this was a new phase of love, which owed 
its birth to tears and sorrow, and this recovery of her lost 
happiness had completely changed her. Her pallor had fled, 
her eyes sparkled, her lips had a smile of gladness upon 
them, as they had on the first morning of that reconciliation, 
which had only lasted for a night. But this time she hoped 
that it would be eternal. She had not profited by the 
severe lesson that she had experienced. Women who love 
will never grow wiser. 

" I have engaged a private room," whispered Gontran. 
" It is not yet warm enough to dine in the open air, besides 
we shall be more alone." 

" Vou have divined my wish exactly," murmured Valentine. 

" And we are going to dine like a pair of lovers freed from 
all restraints ; we will intoxicate ourselves with love." 

Not only had Gontran engaged a private room, but he had 
ordered a choice little dinner, and Valentine, who had been 
accustomed to live very plainly, was surprised at the sight 
of a table which seemed as if it had been laid to entertain 
a star of the first magnitude, in fast society. It was covered 
with flowers, fruits, and all sorts of foreign relishes, Nor- 
wegian anchovies, Pussian caviare, and pickles from the 
Antilles. Two bottles, with their necks cased in gilded foil, 
were reclining in a plated cooler, and Gontran had forgotten 
nothing, from the fiery soups to the lobster seasoned with 
American pimento. "Valentine had never at any time found 
herself before so artistically chosen a dinner, for the great 
society dinners, to which 3he had sometimes been invited, 
had not the slightest semblance to this succulent and delicate 
repast. Everything pleased her in this hastily improvised 
dinner, and what amused her more than all was that the 



A Dream 161 

waiter evidently took them for a pair of clandestine lovers 
at least, so she judged from the air of mystery which he 
indulged in. 

Gontran endeavoured to carry out this illusion fully. His 
manner was delightful, such as he could always put on when 
he liked, and he was tender and affectionate to her, with just 
the faintest tinge of melancholy in his tone, which seemed 
like a delicate allusion to the past storms which had formerly 
ruffled their now peaceful existence. There was no question 
now of anything except their mutual affection. The names 
of M. Vacheron, of Mile, de Ganges, or of M. Trevieres were 
not mentioned, as if such personages had never existed ; 
not a word even was said about Mme. de Saint Senier, the 
races, or society in general. Gontran was no longer the same 
person. The cold and haughty man of the world had dis- 
appeared. The aristocratic nobleman had become all at 
once a simple and affectionate husband, the very husband 
that Valentine had dreamed of, who gave himself up heart 
and soul to the unexpected pleasure of this uninterrupted 
dinner. She had scarcely an opportunity of saying anything 
in this duet of affection. She looked at Gontran, and all 
the love of her soul spoke in her eyes. He became more 
and more affectionate, and appeared to yield to a power that 
was stronger than his will, and he ended by raising her 
to the loftiest heights of the purest and most refined 
sentiment. 

" Listen, Valentine," said Gontran, suddenly ; " you think 
that you know me — you take me for a nobleman puffed up 
with all the pride of birth, stiff and formal as an Englishman, 
and incapable of passionate feeling, or aspirations after 
the ideal." Then as the Countess was about to protest, he 
added passionately : " Suppose I told you that I had a horror 
of the world in which I lived, that Paris disgusts me, and 
that I Jong to quit all, and to devote my life to you \ " 

" It would be perfect rapture for me — a heaven upon 
earth ; but you, Gontran, how would it suit you 1 " 

" Could you resign yourself to follow me wherever I should 
lead you — to foreign climes, to Italy first, where we could 
forget all those who have done so much to mar our hapjn- 
ness, then into some out-of-the-way part of France, to some 
old castle where we could live for each other 1 You guess, do 
you not, that it is jealousy that impels me to speak thus, I 
shall never cure myself of it whilst we live this Parisian 
existence, to which we are condemned ; and things will . < 
end happily if we continue it. But it is my embarrass" 
position that binds me to it. Soon it will be so no lunger. 
Fortune has at last come to me. I am going to be rich, v«ry 



162 Fickle Heart 

rich, and shall no more be obliged to ask for aid from 
your father, nor will he have the opportunity of refusing 
me ! Well, the first use that I wish to make of my wealth 
is to secure an independence, and we can only find that 
far, far from Paris. By independence, I mean the absolute 
and voluntary union of two souls who love each other pas- 
sionately. No one to come between us. All for each other. 
We wili put everything in common, and we will break all 
those bonds which link us to the outer world. We shall 
have no more friends, no more relations " 

"I have my father," murmured Valentine. 

"Your father has cursed you, he has bid you choose 
between he or I. You have chosen, and he will never for- 
give you for having done so, and preferred me to him. How 
many a time has he reproached me harshly, because I was 
poor when I married you, and because since then, I have 
availed myself of his wealth. For the future this humilia- 
tion will be spared me. I shall be able to lift up my head, 
and when I have repaid him what I owe him, I shall be a 
free man again. Perhaps he will disinherit you, and give his 
fortune to I know not whom. But what matters a few 
millions more or less ? He cannot take back your dowry, and 
that will prevent your having to go to any one for aid. I 
will add to it all that I possess. I am going to make my 
will, and I shall institute you my residuary legatee." 

" Why do you speak of vour death 1 " 

" Because it is that alone that can separate us, and because 
I hope to go first, and I have no desire that my property 
should go to distant relatives. To whom should I leave it, 
if not to you 1 But I remember I have forgotten to tell you 
how this great change in niv fortune has come about. You 
will naturally ask, and it is time for me to tell you the import- 
ant news." 

Valentine might indeed have asked what fairy with 
her magic wand had transformed this landless, moneyless 
Count into a wealthy man. Helplessly in debt the 
evening before, the Count now spoke of a mighty heri- 
tage that he was going to leave his wife. There was 
much to be astonished at, and much for her to inquire 
about in this ; but Valentine never thought of doing so. 
Gontran had come back to her and that was all she 
thought of. " I have spoken to you," said he, " of a 
cousin of mine who after 1830 resigned his commission as an 
officer in the Boval Cuards, and took service with Russia. 
He had quarrelled with my father, anil never communicated 
with us again, rteeently I have learned that he has died at 
eighty years of age, that he has left no will, and that I am 



A Dream 163 

the sole heir to his property, estimated at four millions. I 
am, therefore, almost as rich as you are. And the reason I 
rejoice at this is, that we can live for ourselves now, without 
anyone having a word to say. Were it not for this windfall 
people would not have hesitated to say that I was living upon 
you, but now that we are almost upon an equality as regards 
fortune, no one can say a word." 

" Were you poor I would not for a moment have hesitated 
to follow you,'' answered the Countess, quickly. " But do 
not say another word about either your fortune or mine. 
Tell me rather that you love me, tell me so without cessation, 
so that I may accustom myelf to my newly-found happiness, 
and begin to believe in it." 

" Will you believe it when we shall be far away from 
France, in the land where the orange trees bloom." 

" Would that it were to-morrow." 

" And so say I. Did I but listen to the dictates of my 
heart, I would bear you away to-night, without a word to 
any one. What a happy dream to go away and to wake up 
in the land of the sun ; to come and go without let or hin- 
drance, until we had found some nest in which we could 
spend the rest of our lives in mutual love." 

" Ah, it would be too much happiness," murmured 
Valentine. 

" Yes, and the dream will soon be realised, but for the 
moment I am still tied by a cord that I cannot free myself 
from. It is not so easy to escape from Society as to enter it. 
I must first . get rid of my partnership with Saint Senier. 
We have three horses entered, one for the Produce Stakes, 
one for the Chantilly Derby, and a third for the Grand Prix, 
and that I may settle accounts with my partner, I must 
await the result of these three races. It is a matter of two 
months, more or less, but during these two months we must 
be much together. Are we agreed then ? Let us drink to 
our love," concluded Sartilly, raising on high a brimming 
glass of champagne. 

Valentine held out hers to him. He touched it with his 
lips, and she emptied it at a draught. That evening she 
seemed to wish to experience all the phases of intoxication. 
" Then," continued Gontran, " I have not a minute to lose to 
warn Saint Senier that I propose to dissolve our connection 
after the Grand Prix has been run for. He is most punc- 
tilious in business matters, and if I do not give him due 
notice he will play me some trick or other, and Ido not wish to 
leave any legal proceedings behind me, nor to have any judicial 
question with regard to my cousin's inheritance. Certainly 
there is no one to dispute it with me, but it is necessary to 



164 Fickle Heart 

look ahead, and in any case I should have to go through all 
the forms prescribed by the Foreign Office. Who knows 
even if I may not have to go to Bussia ? " 

" We could go there together ? " said Valentine. 

" And a very good idea too. It -would be like a second 
honeymoon trip, and I will do all I can that you may not 
compare it disadvantageously with the first one ; but in the 
meantime I must leave you this evening. Oh, not for any 
length of time, and I will first take you home. Then I must 
set out in search of my notary, it is his night to be at the 
Opera. I shall catch him there between nine and ten o'clock, 
and I will talk to him between the acts. Then I must go 
down to the club, where Saint Senier always drops in about 
twelve. My conversation with him will very likely be longer 
than I could desire, but I shall be home about one." Then 
bending over from his seat so as to reach his wife's ear, he 
whispered, " Will you be expecting me ? " 

The answer was lost in a passionate kiss. 

The remainder of the dinner was nothing but an inter- 
change of words of affection, mingled with projects for the 
future. They would start at the beginning of summer, and 
would not return to Paris again until after a long honeymoon 
trip, and would leave it again like the swallows at the com- 
mencement of the winter. Gontran once more skilfully 
alluded to the jealousy which consumed him, and which an 
absence from Paris could alone cure, and with equal cunning 
he asserted that most likely an absence of this kind might 
soften the anger of M. Vacheron, who would no longer be 
prejudiced against his son-in-law, when he saw that he had 
again become a model husband, having cast aside all his 
errors, freed from all his debts, and nearly as wealthy as his 
wife. Once again he spoke as if by chance, and not arroga- 
ting to himself any merit, of this will that he was going to 
make, leaving all his fortune to his wife, for he knew well 
that Valentine would not be behindhand in genero- 
sity. The reconciled couple drove home in their carriage, 
nestling up closely to each other, and during the drive 
Valentine suddenly asked him, " How do you set about mak- 
ing a will?" To which Gontran replied with a smile, 
'' Nothing in the world more simple. I daresay you think 
that you must go to a lawyer about it ; not a bit of it. You 
just write your will on any kind of blank paper, sign it, and 
date it, and it will hold as good as if it were drawn upon any 
amount of stamped paper. I did so, for after your father 
had left, and when we had settled matters between ourselves 
I went up to my room to dress myself to dine with you, when 
my valet handed me the letter from the French Consul at 



The Awakening 165 

St. Petersburg. I ought, perhaps, to have come at once and 
shown it to you, but I preferred to make a surprise of it, 
and to communicate it to you between two kisses. But the 
first thought that I had, was to make you a sharer in my 
new good fortune. I therefore took a sheet of my finest paper 
and put down my last wishes in two lines, for no more were 
required : ' I make my beloved wife, Valentine Louise 
Clotilde, my sole executor and legatee,' then I added, ' in 
token of the happiness she has caused me during our married 
life.' Then, I put this -writing into a large envelope, and 
wrote on it the usual official words, ' This sealed envelope 
contains my last will and testament,' and I locked it up in 
my desk. When I get home I will give it to you, for it may 
as well be in your custody as in mine." 

" And then we will make an exchange," whispered the 
Countess. 

Sartilly hardly caught these last words, but he guessed their 
import. Hehadgoteverythinghe wanted,andallthatremained 
for him was to continue charming to the end, and he was so. 
When they reached home he left the carriage waiting out- 
side, and accompanied his wife to her own apartments, and 
so they once again found themselves in that room which 
Gonti-an had not entered since a certain night in the past 
February, and Valentine would fain have kept him there. 
She felt however that the expression of an inopportune wish 
might spoil all, and sure of seeing him again in a few hours, 
she let him go, after bidding him a tender farewell. A few 
minutes afterwards she heard the sound of the wheels of the 
carriage that bore him away. He must have stopped on the 
stairs to give some orders to one of the servants, for it took 
but a brief time to descend from the Countess's room to the 
front door. 



CHAPTEE XX 

THE AWAKENING 

Valentine did not, however, attempt to enter into this cal- 
culation, she only hastened to shut herself up, and to await 
in solitude the return of her husband. 

Since Lisa's dismissal Valentine had almost entirely 
dispensed with the services of a maid. She mu-h preferred 
to dress and undress herself sooner than permi the odious 
Florence to come near her. 

It was Florence's custom to prepare the bedroom in the 
evening, and then not to put in an appearance until the next 



166 Fickle Heart 

morning. The Countess had made up her mind now that 
she and her husband were again reconciled, to ask him 
to send her away at once, and she felt sure that he 
would not refuse her this slight satisfaction. Her room was 
a perfect little nest, filled with artistic nic-nacks, and hung 
with Chinese silk, with curtains to the doors of Gobelin 
tapestry ; wax candles burnt in candelabra of exquisite 
workmanship, a lamp made of old Sevres, shed a mellow light 
over a rosewood table, the very one upon which the Countess 
had, some time ago copied some lines written by her husband, 
who had taken them away. But Valentine did not think of 
what had passed before. She sat down in the same place and 
began hastily to draw up a will, according to the form which 
her husband had almost dictated to her. Her wish was 
to show it to him, and to place it in his hands as soon as he 
returned. She read it twice over to assure herself that she had 
omitted neither date nor signature, and in order to carry out 
Gontran's wishes to the letter, she put the will into an enve- 
lope and placed it on her writing table. In doing this she 
raised her head and saw an eye gleaming on her through a 
hole in one of the flowers embroidered on the hangings, an eye 
that seemed to follow her every movement. At first Valentine 
thought that she was deceived, and that what she saw was 
merely the effect of the light on the hangings. She closed 
her eyes, opened them again suddenly, and gazed steadily in 
the same direction. 

The eye was still there, just on a level with her face ; it 
shone against the dark background of the hangings like a 
black diamond set in bronzed silver. 

Valentine would have started to her feet, but she lacked 
the power. She remained helpless in her chair, paralysed by 
that object, as the bird is fascinated by the deadly snake. 
"Who was watching her thus ? Certainly it could not be 
her husband, for she had heard him drive off to the opera. 
Was it one of her servants, the valet or the maid 1 Francis 
or Florence 1 What object could they have, what informa- 
tion did they wish to gain ? And perhaps this was not the 
first time that they had practised this treacherous manoeuvre. 
Whilst the Countess asked herself these and other ques- 
tions, the eye disappeared. When she felt that this terrifying 
glance was no longer cast upon her, she plucked up courage 
and walked straight up to that portion of the wall to examine 
it closely. On feeling the hangings she found a round hole 
pierced in the centre of one of those strange Chinese flowers 
with red petals surrounded by dark leaves. At a distance the 
hole was lost in the dark background, and it was necessary to 
discover its existence by the sense of touch, but the aperture 



The Awakeniwj 107 

went right through the wall into the little sitting-room 
where that very day Mme. de Sartilly had received her 
father. She placed her cheek against it, and felt the wind 
blow through the orifice on to it. How was it that she had 
never noticed it before, she who passed so much of her time 
there, her days in the sitting-room, and her nights in the 
lonely chamber 1 She could not comprehend it, and she had 
the courage to continue the explorations which she had just 
commenced. She took up a candle and opened the door, 
without asking herself if she should find anyone on the other 
side, who, with evil motives, was keeping a watch upon her 
at that hour. She saw no one, but she found that the hang- 
ings had been adroitly cut away with a pair of sharp scissors, 
and that beneath it the wood-work of the partition had 
been perforated. This mysterious work had evidently been 
effected quite recently, and must have been done with some 
object ; but with what object, the Countess could not guess. 
And as all her thoughts were now on Gontran, she made up 
her mind to tell him of this strange event, and to put herself 
under his protection. Until the time when he should come 
back to her, and before shutting herself up again in her 
room, she went out on to the staircase, which was still lighted, 
and bending over the banisters she saw that the footman 
who was usually on duty in the hall, was not at his 
post. She listened, but could not detect the slightest sound. 
It seemed as if the house was uninhabited. Valentine turned 
back, went into the sitting-room, and threw open a little door 
which led to the bath-room which adjoined her dressing-room, 
which again communicated with her bedroom, from which it 
was only separated by a vast sheet of glass. Valentine 
therefore was secure in her own rooms, and after bolting the 
door she threw herself on to a lounge to rest, not to sleep, 
but rather to reflect on her position. Frightened as she was 
at the strange discovery, she said to herself that no doubt all 
would be explained presently, and that the guilty party 
would be discovered, and dismissed at once. Then she let her 
thoughts wander to her husband. In a few hours he would 
be with her again, and then the happy life that he had 
spoken of would commence once more. Little by little she 
lulled herself to repose with these ideas of love and hope ; 
she forgot the present in the future, the reality for the 
dream, and she allowed herself to sink into a half-sleep, her 
eyelids partially closed, soothed by the thoughts of happiness 
to come. When she again opened her eyes, she could at first 
hardly say where she was. The perforated hangings were 
no longer in front of her, she had turned her back on the 
dressing-room, and was facing a large looking-glass, which was 



168 Tickle Heart 

fully lighted up by the candles in the candelabra. Was she 
dreaming still, or did she see in it, a woman draped in black, 
"who seemed to emerge from the wall at the end of the 
dressing-room and move towards her noiselessly as a ghost 1 
A cold shudder chilled her blood, but paralysed as she was 
by terror, she made no effort to move, though she felt that 
some unknown danger was near. The phantom glided over the 
carpet, approached a lacquered stand upon which stood a 
glass of orange flower-water, which it wasthe Countess's custom 
to sip before going to bed, and poured something into it 
from a small bottle that it held in its hand. 

At that instant Valentine caught sight of the face, and 
recognised Florence. 

Valentine had sufficient command over herself to retain 
her absolute immobility. She did not tremble, she hardly 
breathed. Florence, who had been looking at her in the 
mirror, fancied that she still slept, and moving slowly away, 
disappeared, as though the wall had opened to afford her a 
means of exit. 

Valentine could hear an almost imperceptible creaking 
sound, and then all was still. She knew that there was a 
door there, but that door was always locked from within. The 
wretched woman then who had opened it, must either have 
been furnished with a false key, or had one made for her. 
Valentine examined the door and found that the hinges had 
been recently oiled. The glass of orange-flower water 
sent forth a strong odour of bitter almonds. Florence had 
therefore poured prussic acid into it. The poisoner had 
foreseen everything, the crime was to be accomplished at a 
given time, and was a premeditated one, as every arrange- 
ment must have been made before the Countess had come 
home. The hole that had been bored in the woodwork 
would enable the plotter to watch her as she was waiting for 
the return of her husband. Florence must have calculated 
that on her return the Countess would have been thirsty, 
and that was why she had delayed pouring out the poison, 
for she was no doubt aware that prussic acid evaporates 
when exposed to the action of the air. The cruel creature 
hoped that Valentine would fall as though struck by light- 
ning the instant she tasted the orange-flower water. In 
terror and amazement Valentine asked herself, " What 
have I done to her, what would she gain by my death ? " 
Then as her moments of agonised fear came back, " Is she 
coming back again, will she attack me ? " But she soon felt 
that she had no cause to fear this. Florence was anxious for 
Valentine's death, but she did not wish to kill her with her 
own hands. Her object was to make the world believe that 



The Awakening 169 

it was a suicide, so that no one might accuse her of the 
murder. She had sufficient courage to pour out the poison, 
but not to commit an act of violence. What she wanted was 
that her crime should be crowned with impunity. Valentine 
made up her mind that things must rest as they were, until 
Gontran's return, when she would tell him all. The cowardly 
poisoner was perhaps close at hand. She was perhaps even 
now watching the movements of her intended victim by some 
other orifice which she had prepared ; and if this were 
the case it was better that she should believe that 
Valentine had discovered nothing. "With astounding cool- 
ness Valentine took up the glass and placed it on a small 
table by the side of her bed, as she always did before retiring 
to rest ; then she began to move about her dressing-room 
like a woman who is about to go to bed, but is in no particular 
hurry to do so. This manoeuvre was only for the sake of 
inducing Florence to believe, that is, if she were watching 
from behind the partition, that in a short time Valentine 
would begin to undress slowly, and, reclining on the settee, 
await the arrival of her husband, and that at that moment 
perhaps she would empty the glass at a draught. Although 
Valentine no longer thought that her enemy would return, 
she bolted the door through which the would-be murderess 
had effected her entrance, and then returning to her bedroom 
extinguished the candles, which were beginning to burn 
down. She only left the lamp burning, and a light which 
she placed by the side of the glass of orange-flower water. 
Then she took a new novel from a shelf, and sitting down 
before the little rosewood table upon which she had placed 
her will, endeavoured to read. 

The clock struck midnight. " Yet another hour to wait," 
thought Valentine, " ah, Gontran ! My Gontran, what will 
you say when you hear that my maid has tried to poison 
me ?" A sharp sound caused her to start nervously, it was 
a handful of gravel thrown against the window-panes from 
outside. This signal however did not alarm her for it was 
thus that Lisa since her dismissal by M. de Sartilly always 
made known her presence. The Countess was to answer it 
by tapping the tips of her fingers against the glass, and 
throwing a cloak over her shoulders, gliding through her 
rooms, and stealing softly down the stairs, and through the 
hall, to rejoin Lisa who was waiting for her in a spot which 
had been settled on between them. But now all things had 
changed. The poisoner doubtless had not yet returned to her 
garret, and was perhaps hanging about the very staircase 
down which Valentine would have to pass, and there would 
therefore be the risk of meeting: her. Besides the Countess 



170 Fickle Heart 

had resolved to discontinue these nocturnal meetings with 
her former maid. Gontran had expressly forbidden her to 
hold any communication with her, and since their recon- 
ciliation Valentine had sworn never to disobey him again. 
What good then could she derive from a meeting with Lisa, 
who could only offer condolences which now were ill-timed. 
Her husband alone was the one to whom she looked for 
protection against the machinations of the terrible Florence. 
However she could not allow Lisa to remain in the garden 
where she might be surprised at any moment. It was 
absolutely necessary to send her away. This was easy. 
Valentine before sitting down had pushed an armchair 
against the orifice in the wall, so that no one might be able 
to watch her, and she therefore felt safe in communicating 
with her former maid. She ran to the window, opened it, 
and found herself almost face to face with a woman who had 
ascended by the gardener's ladder which had been placed 
against the wall of the house. 

At this unexpected apparition the Countess started back, 
but a voice which she at once recognised said, " Have no 
fear, it is I." 

" Diana ! What do you want here ? " exclaimed Valentine, 
much surprised. 

" I wish to save you : are you alone 1 " 
i: Yes, but leave me, I entreat yon, my husband is coming 
back soon." 

" Good, I am yet in time then, but come with me, I will 
help you down the ladder." 

" Down the ladder, and for what reason ? " 
" I have come for yon. Your father is waiting for you 
and has sent me for you." 

" My father does not know that I and Gontran are recon- 
ciled once more. Tell him from me that he need have no 
more fears for me, and that I will not come with you." 
' ' You are determined to die then 1 
" To die, what does that mean ? " 

" That if you do not leave this house immediately, you 
will be a dead woman before morning, for the woman who 
has charge of you, will murder you to-night." 
" How did you learn that 1 " 

" What does it matter how I gained my information, 
I know that it is a fact. Come down I tell you ; it is 
impossible for me to tell you anything perched as I am on 
this ladder ; but when I have told you all, you can if you 
like go back, for I shall not keep you by force, if you do not 
believe me. Come, I must speak to you." 
Mile, de Ganges did not openly accuse the Count of the 



The Awakening 171 

intended crime, and Valentine thought that her former 
friend was only going to supply her with additional proofs 
against the murderess Florence. There was still an hour 
before Gontran's return, and it would be better to settle 
matters before he came back. " I shall not keep you long," 
continued Diana, " and your father will never forgive you for 
refusing to listen to me." This menace made the Countess 
decide. Mile, de Ganges assisted her to climb through the 
window, and supported her until she had got her feet on the 
topmost rungs of the ladder, and as soon as they had reached 
the ground, she hurried her off to a side walk, near the spot 
where George Cezambre had leapt over the railings some 
two months before. 

*' Tell me," said Valentine, " why did this woman endeavour 
to poison me ; tell me the reason that I may inform Gontran 
who will save me from her." 

" Tell me first how you discovered it," returned Mile, de 
Ganges, for she had only spoken at random of a crime which 
she thought was likely to be committed, and found that 
she had guessed the truth, but she took care to betray no 
astonishment at her discovery. " I dined with my husband 
at the Pavilion d'Armenonville," answered Valentine, " he 
drove home with me, and left me for an appointment on a 
business matter. After his departure I dozed a little, and 
when half awake, I saw in my glass a woman creep softly 
into the room ; she held in her hands a phial, the contents of 
.which she poured into my tumbler of orange flower water, 
and then disappeared. I did not move, and she thought that 

I had not seen her " 

" And she thought that before going to bed you would 
have drank the poison, and that your husband on his return 
would have found you dead. The plot was skilfully laid." 

" But tell me what could her motive have been in wishing to 
put me out of the way 1 " 

" What, can you not guess that your husband bribed her to 
poison you." 

" Gontran ! That is false, and had I known that you were 
going to caluminate him, I would never have come down. 
But not another word on the subject. Leave me." 

" Do you know what this man whom you defend has done, 
and is going to do ? " 

" I wish to know nothing ; do not keep me here any 
longer." 

" You shall not go until you have listened to me. 
He is overwhelmed with debt, and in order to clear himself 
he has entered into a conspiracy with a bookmaker to com- 
mit an abominable fraud. They are going to lay against a 



172 Fickle Heart 

horse that he owns, which is certain to win the Grand 
Produce Stakes, one of the most important races of the 
Spring Meeting. But the evening before the race that 
honourable gentleman the Count de Sartilly, will administer 
to the poor beast a drug which will prevent it from winning, 
and he will do this with his own hands. What do you say of 
a gentleman who can commit such an infamy 1 Is he not 
quite capable of having his wife poisoned 1 " 

" And suppose I were to tell you, that Gontran has just 
inherited the immense property of a relative, who has left 
four millions. Will you then allow that these statements 
were false. Why should he have recourse now to such 
ignoble means to pay his debts ? " 

" I will answer you by saying that this legacy falls in at 
too convenient a moment for me to believe in it ; and besides 
if there were a particle of truth in it, such an event would be 
well known." 

" His relation died in Russia, and the news only reached 
him to-day." 

" At what o'clock 1 " asked Mile, de Ganges, quickly. 
" At four o'clock, just after my father left me." 
"How does it happen then that an hour after M. de 
Sartilly accepted the disgraceful propositions of this book- 
maker, who is his principal creditor." 
" How can you prove that ] " 

" Will you believe in the word of a man who risked his 
life to save your honour ? In the word of George Cezambre?" 
" Your lover ! " 

" Yes, my lover, he has never told a lie. He was waiting 
for me at the Pavilion cl'Armenonville, where he heard 
without wishing to do so, all the conversation between your 
husband, and William Oxwall ; and now your husband has 
dared to invent this tale of an inheritance. But now if it 
Avere true, is he not a thousand times more infamous to 
plan such a robbery, when he can pay his debts without 
having recourse to dishonourable means. He has made up 
the whole story I tell you, and in doing so he had some 
hidden design." 

" What design, I defy you to show me one. And I tell 
you in addition, that all Paris will soon know that my 
husband's position is a changed one, and that his life will 
change with it. I am going to Russia with him, and after- 
wards he will pay all his debts, and purchase a country house 
somewhere, where we can live together happily. Do you 
know what his first thought was, when he learned that he 
had inherited this fortune ? He made his will, and left it 
all to me ! " 



The Awakening 173 

" He left you a fortune that does not exist, and he doubt- 
less hoped that you would make your will in his favour." 
" I have already done so." 
" When 1 " asked Mile, de Ganges, eagerly. 

" This evening, it is there on the little rosewood table that 
you know." 

" You made it before that woman came into your room, 
whilst you were half asleep." 

" Yes, before that." 

" Ah ! now I understand it all, she was hidden somewhere, 
and kept a watch on you, and it was then that she saw you 
writing." 

" How do you know that 1 I did see an eye looking at 
me through a hole in the hangings." 

" And do you not see that that woman knew that you were 
making your will, and that she only waited for its comple- 
tion to pour the poison into your glass. Had you drank it 
your husband would now be a wealthy man. He had 
counted on that, and laid his plans accordingly. The dinner 
was one of them, the announcement of the legacy another, 
and when he told you that he had executed a will in your 
favour, he foresaw that you would do the same with regard 
to him. You were condemned to death, and Florence was 
charged with the carrying out of the sentence." 

The Countess shuddered, she began to see the truth in all 
its naked hideousness. 

" Come with me," urged Diana. " If the Count returns 
and finds you living, he will force the poison down your 
throat by main force. Do not give him the chance of com- 
mitting another crime-" 

" Where are you going to take me to ? " asked Valentine in 
trembling accents. 

" To your father, he is close at hand in a cab, with Lisa. 
Where did you think that I was going to take you. For the 
future your home must be with your father. I vowed that 
I would restore his daughter to him. Your husband will not 
dare to seek you in your father's house. But come quickly, 
I hear the sound of a carriage. It is the Count returning 
home." 

Diana led her friend hastily away in the direction of the 
little gate, the key of which Lisa had given her, and as they 
passed through it,Gontran's cabriolet stopped before the main 
gate in the Avenue d'Eylau. 

As the fugitives walked quickly down the Eue Villejust 
Valentine said in a half whisper, " It is all over. I may 
die from the shock, but I am determined never to see him 
again, I despise him now, and I pray heaven that, I may end 



174 Fickle Heart 

by hating him. Only swear to me, by all the love you have 
for me, that you will never tell my father that he wished to 
poison me." 

" I swear it to you," answered Diana, and she thought to 
herself, " ah ! poor creature, she loves him still ! " 



CHAPTEE XXI 



The month of April is certainly the worst month in the 
epicure's almanack. No game, no truffles, no oysters, and 
hardly any fruit worth speaking of. The lovers of the 
pleasures of the table curse it, and Balzac, the great Balzac, 
has stigmatised it in this well-known phrase, " The terrible 
dessert of the month of April." But still there are compensa- 
tions in it. There are races nearly every day at Longchamps, 
at Auteuil, at Vincennes, at St. Ouen. The meetings of the 
sporting world draw all the country aristocracy and fashion 
to Paris, and scarcely a week passes without a first appear- 
ance taking place at some popular theatre. All Paris enjoys 
itself before departing to drink the waters, or to disport it- 
self at some fashionable bathing-place. It is the fastest part of 
the season, dear to sporting men and dar.dies, and to the 
ladies of the irregular division in every rank. People in a 
small way of business, and the really poor, take no notice of 
holiday time, they work all the year round. 

The Countess de Sartilly, since she had sought refuge in 
her father's house, had dropped out of society, and Diana, in 
spite of her rash step, could hardly be ranked amongst the 
fast women of Paris. But the Viscountess de Saint Senier, in 
spite of her five-and-thirty years, was the fastest of the fast. 
Age has but little to do with it, for, during the second 
Empire, women could be seen who had passed the perilous 
point of forty years, and who yet were noticeable by that 
extraordinary freedom of manner, which was then one of the 
distinguishing marks of fashionable life. To take up such a 
position, even beauty is not absolutely indispensable. Rank, 
wealth, and cynical manners, are excellent substitutes for it. 
Mme de Saint Senier then possessed all that was requisite to 
play the part of an arrant flirt of fashionable life, a character 
highly -appreciated by men about town and newspaper re- 
porters. Her name was sure to be found in all the accounts 
of aristocratic re-unions, whilst the descriptions of her dress 
filled the columns of the journals devoted to the fashions. 
And yet this Viscountess, who still had a tender weakness for 



"I will do it" 175 

her coachman, often took the chair atj charitable meetings. 
She managed somehow to find time for everything. You met 
her on the race-courses, in stage boxes, and in excellent 
society. She was nearly always alone, but occasionally 
accompanied by some lady friend of similar tastes to herself, 
but seldom with her husband who contented himself with 
keeping guard over her from a distance. Flying the 
matrimonial flag, she sailed boldly through the troubled 
waters of Parisian society, and managed to do what she 
liked without being talked about by the indulgent moralists 
of the upper ten. She never missed a race meeting, and she 
often was accompanied to them by the Baroness de Rechampy 
a little widow who had soon consoled herself for the loss of 
her husband, a colonel in the army, and who was sufficiently 
pretty to attract a little attention without monopolising all the 
compliments of the male sex. The Viscountess did not take 
much interest in the improvement of the equestrian genus, 
but during the Horse Show, the course is a neutral territory, 
in which ladies of high rank are elbowed by the Bohemian 
class composed of actresses, adventuresses, and ladies about 
whose antecendents there is no doubt. Both these hostile 
camps come to this meeting to inspect each other. It is a 
grand review of beauty and dress. Mme. de Saint Senier 
prided herself on her intimate knowledge of the manners and 
customs of the world of gallantry. 

She was also delighted to see strong and active riders leap 
over the fences in the military races, and amongst them all 
she preferred the junior officers, as she confessed to a weak- 
ness for young men. To-day was one of the last meetings of 
the Equestrian Congress in the Palace of Industry, and the 
place was crowded. There was a strong detachment of the 
"half-world" in full war paint. The Faubourg SaintGermain, 
and the Faubourg Saint Honored were also well to the front. 
Nearly every class of society had sent its representatives. 
Even the citizen element was there in the shape of mothers 
accompanied by daughters on the look out for husbands ; for 
on these occasions the Palace of Industry rivals the Opera 
Comique, where from time immemorial, young ladies have 
disported themselves with their future husbands, under the 
careful supervision of their mothers. There were as there 
always is, two separate camps, in the Stands. On the right were 
the nominally respectable woman, and on the left those who 
made no parade of their virtue, but who really were not 
much worse than their neighbours. But both of these classes 
mixed freely in the passages and on the course during the 
intervals between the races. Every description of toilet was 
to be seen on the graduated smits of the Stands, and ;w 



176 Fickle Heart 

fashion is not so arbitrary as it used to be there were as 
many varieties of dresses in shape and colour, as there are 
flowers in a garden. The Viscountess had for this occasion 
put on a sort of military jacket of Havana cloth with scarlet 
collar and facings. She wore a Louis XVI. hat with a huge 
plume of ostrich feathers on it, which would have utterly 
dwarfed a woman of less majestic proportions, but which 
rather became her Juno-like beauty. The brilliant Baroness 
had contented herself with a straw-coloured Russian guipure 
dress, with a draping of black net, and a little plush hat 
embroidered with pearls, and trimmed with a bunch of 
wheat ears not much larger than her closed hand. Both 
ladies attracted a good deal of notice. They were looking 
attentively at the rival divisions, and exchanging remarks 
regarding their toilets. 

"Always the same faces," said Mme. de Saint Senier. 
" Not a new recruit amongst those girls." 

" And yet I fancy that I see a fresh one," murmured the 
Baroness Rechampy, turning her glasses on to the Stand on 
the left hand. "There's that red-haired woman in a 
mousquetaire hat. She is not so bad, and looks as if she 
had some go in her." 

" She is not exactly a new recruit." 

" What is she then, she doesn't look like a business woman] 1 ' 

" She is not even so good as that, she is a governess that 
was kicked out of her place." 

" You know her then ] " 

" A good deal too well, she was one of Mme. de Sartilly's 
servants, when she stepped over the boundary." 

" Good, I recollect it all now, I heard the story, she got 
quite a young fellow to carry her off." 

" Yes, and she is bringing him up by hand, she seduced the 
poor boy who was so nice, and she will ruin him before she 
has done with him, she is a hussy of the worst kind." 

" Is her lover, that pretty boy here 1 " asked the Baroness 
with some appearance of curiosity. 

" No, I don't see him, I expect that she has left him at 
home, she takes him out with her, or ties him up like a King 
Charles' spaniel." 

" What a sad thing. Such women ought to be locked up. 
But tell me, my dear. You were speaking of Mme. de 
Sartilly, is it true that she has disappeared." 

" Perfectly so, she has left her husband to weep alone." 

" Has she gone off with some man." 

" Most likely. They say that she is at her father's, but I 
doubt the fact very much. I don't pity her, a mere prude, 
one of those creatures of low extraction who get into society 



"I will do it" 177 

by their marriage. She always laid herself out for virtue, 
but I have always distrusted those goody-goodies — 'still waters 
run deep ' you know, and the proverb is seldom wrong." 

" How does her husband take it ? " 

"Sartilly ? Oh ! I suppose he has consoled himself by this 
time, although my husband says that this rupture has ruined 
him. He used to live on his wife's income, this fine de 
Sartilly, and if she gets a divorce, on my word I don't know 
what he will do, for he has been living at the rate of three 
hundred thousand francs a year. I should not take the 
least interest in what becomes of him, but M. de Saint 
Senier has been foolish enough to mix himself up with him 
in running horses, and if he drops his money, I fear that I 
shall feel it. My husband is not a very pleasant fellow at 
any time, but when he loses money he is simply diabolical. 
Ah, you are a luckly woman to be a widow, remember that, 
and don't get married again." 

" I don't intend to," answered the Baroness with a smile. 
"But I can see M. de Saint Senier, down there at 
the foot of the judge's chair, he is talking to a handsome 
young fellow, do you know him ? " 

The Viscountess looked in the direction in which her friend 
pointed, blushed, and muttered under her breath, " Ah, he 
never does the right thing, now if he would only bring him 
up here, the red-haired woman would burst with rage." 

" What, then, that young fellow is ? " 

" That creature's lover, M. George Cezambre, a countryman 
of mine newly arrived from Mauritius, with letters of 
introduction to my husband, who presented him to me ; a 
poor innocent Creole who has let himself be picked up by 
that jade." 

" Yes, I can understand that you are not overpleased with 
the affair, but look — they are going to part, they shake 
hands, and are evidently on the most friendly terms ; but 
your Creole is off to the other side where his love with the 
flame-coloured hair is sitting in state, and your husband is 
talking to a gentleman in the passage." 

" Sartilly, on my word, and by their manner, I do not 
think that they seem on very good terms. They are having 
a row. It looks as if my beloved husband was asking his 
partner to settle up, and he doesn't seem inclined to do so. 
How pleased I am. I wish that they would ruin each other. 
My fortune is at my own disposal, and I would not lend 
Saint Senier a rap even if he came down to the lowest ebb. 
That would teach him not to let a poor young fellow fall 
into the snares of an adventuress, a boy who was confided to 
him from my native land." 



178 Fickle Heart 

Anger does not always prevent people from seeing clearly, 
and the "Viscountess was right in guessing that the inter- 
view between the partners was a stormy one. They had 
met by chance after not having seen each other for ten days, 
and an explanation was inevitable between them. Saint 
Senier began by addressing Gontran. " Will you have the 
goodness," said he, to let me know why you have given no 
signs of life for more than a week ? " The language in which 
this question was put was most courteous, but the speaker's 
manner was not conciliatory, and Gontran perceived it in a 
moment. " My dear fellow," returned he coldly, " I am not 
obliged to tell you the use I make of my time, but I am 
surprised that you have not guessed the reason of my 
temporary disappearance." 

" I heard that your wife had left you suddenly, and I 
supposed that her departure had caused you some fresh 
embarrassments ; but that seemed no reason for you to keep 
yourself away, especially from me, but we have interests in 
common which are of too great importance for us to neglect 
to look after them, as long as our partnership lasts." 

"I have no intention of dissolving it." 

" Nor I, at least not at present, but I have both the right, 
and the wish to know how we stand." 

" Our situation is in no way changed." 

" Mine is not, I know ; but yours, in plain words, what is 
your position ? " 

" You mean that you wish to know if my present resources 
permit me to remain your partner 1 " 

" Precisely so, and my question ought not to surprise you?" 

" I am perfectly ready to answer it, but not in this walled 
passage. If you will come with me to the portico by the 
exit gate, we can talk at our ease, we shall find no one there 
but footmen waiting for their masters." 

" I am quite willing, only we shall have to pass under the 
eyes of my wife. There, you can see her up there, with the 
1 ittle Baroness de Rechampy. My wife is not very pleased 
with me, she says I shall ruin myself over our stable." 

" You will be able to re-assure her this evening." 

" I hope so, ah ! I perceive over there the beautiful Diana 
de Ganges. Had she nothing to do with your wife's flight ] " 

"Nothing, I don't trouble my head about the woman." 

" And you are right for the place is occupied. Look, her 
lover has taken his seat by her. I was talking to him just 
now, and I can tell you that he is tightly hooked. By the 
way, did you know that he had been elected at our club." 

'• I did not ; it is a matter in which I am not interested." 

''I proposed hini. he had not a. single blackball, I shall 



" I will do it " 179 

take him over there this evening unless she carries him off, 
for she seems to do what she likes with him. She will 
never make a man of the world of him ; if he had a grain of 
sense he would not show himself everywhere with her as he 
does. Well, he is young yet, and is rich enough to do as he 
pleases, and I tell you that if you wish to dissolve our 
partnership, this young fellow could easily be got to take 
your place." 

" I shan't give him the chance." 

Whilst the two men were thus conversing with strained 
politeness, they were slowly making their way through the 
crowd, but at length they contrived to reach the main gate- 
way which opens on to the Champs Elysees. Sartilly took 
his friend into a corner, and then spoke out plainly to him. 
"You believed that I was ruined by the strange conduct of 
my wife, well my dear fellow nothing could have happened 
more fortunately for me." 
" I can't see that." 

" And yet it is most simple. My wife fled whilst I was at 
the club, after we had dined alone together at a restaurant, 
during which we were completely reconciled. She escaped 
alone by the window of her room, at one o'clock in the 
morning, without leaving a word of explanation or farewell. 
There are only two ways of accounting for such conduct, 
either she is mad, or else she has a lover from whom she 
cannot bear to be separated." 

" Excuse me, but I thought that she had taken refuge with 
her father, M. Vacheron." 

" You are right, but that does not respect either of my 
suppositions. Her father has been on bad terms with me 
for a long time past, and in either case he was compelled to 
receive her, were it only for appearance sake, and there the 
matter rests." 

" What do you mean by that 1 " 

"I mean that he dare not take a single step against me, 
and that I defy him to institute any legal proceedings against 
me. He knows perfectly well that he would lose his case, for 
the wrong is all on his daughter's side." 

" Humph," said M. de Saint Senier, not yet quite convinced. 
" We will allow if you like that there are faults on both 
sides, but my wife has put herself out of court, by leaving her 
husband's domicile. I have the power to send a Com- 
missary of Police to compel her to return, but as you can 
understand, I have no wish to do so, and M. Vacheron is as 
anxious as I am to avoid an open scandal, he will therefore 
leave things as they are." 

" Yts, as long as he is permitted to have his daughter with 



180 Fickle Heart 

him, of whom they say -he is very fond, and I have also 
heard that he is not very affectionately disposed towards you. 
But I very much doubt whether he will let you make use, 
as you have hitherto done, of the income derived from the 
settlement, for he will most decidedly look after her 
pecuniary interests. Any father in his place would do the 
same, and M. Vacheron is known to be a thorough man of 
business." 

" All that can he arranged in a friendly manner, I can 
answer for that. If my wife had been persuaded to institute 
proceedings for a separation, or a divorce, I should already 
have been served with a citation.'"' 

" You may get one to-morrow." 

" My dear Saint Senier, you know nothing of my father- 
in-law, and less of my wife. The worthy old man only lives 
for, and by his daughter. He has done all he could ever 
since our marriage to separate her from me, and he has at 
last succeeded. All he wants is her, and now that Valentine 
is safely with him, what does he care what I do with the 
income. She does not require it, nor does he, and he knows 
that I cannot touch the principle." 

" What do you think he will do then 1" 

" I think that he will propose some amicable arrangement, 
so as to leave matters as they are. He, will keep his 
daughter, and I, the income." 

" Well, I hope that all will turn out as you think, but you 
do not take in to consideration that Mme. de Sartilly may desire 
to obtain her freedom by legal means. Formerly I had un- 
derstood that she was satisfied with a separation by mutual 
consent, but since the new law has been passed, she 
may desire to marry again.'' 

"My wife desires something quite different." 

" What is that ? " 

" To be reconciled with me again. You may think me 
very conceited. But if I were to weary you by going through 
all our marriage difficulties, you would find that they arose 
from my wife loving me too deeply." 

" There are very few husbands who could say the same." 

" I envy them, for they can live in peace. Valentine by 
her jealousy and her requirements made our married life 
insupportable. I would not for anything in the world, take 
her back again ; but I repeat to you, that my pecuniary 
interests are in no way threatened." 

" Then my dear fellow, all has happened for the best, but 
I will not conceal from you that I was growing very uneasy." 

" As to my solvency, I suppose." 

" You are right, there are strange rumours afloat." 



" I will do it " 181 

" What do they say, that I am a ruined man 1 " 

" They say that during the last two months, you have lost 
enormous sums of money at the club, and on the turf. 

" What does that matter if I have paid them 1 " 

" Nothing at all ; only permit me to say that I know you 
owe a lot of money to William Oxwall." 

" Did he confide this to you 1 " 

" No. Oxwell is far too discreet. On the contrary he 
declares you are one of his best customers, and he has 
never done anything but crack up your transactions with 
him. But in Paris everything gets about. The other day 
at Longchamps, in my presence, you dropped four thousand 
louis to him. I haven't asked him if you have paid him, 
though I met him here just now." 

" Ah ! he is here, is he 1 " 

" Yes, over by the stables, and in an excellent humour. 
He expects, doubtless, to make a good day of it, as next Sun- 
day I also hope to do." 

" Let us go back for a moment, my dear Saint Senier, to 
the chief topic of our discourse. My bets are on my own 
responsibility, the same as my debts, and affect me alone. 
What has made you so uneasy, and reasonably so, is our 
partnership ? What have you to fear ? Did I not put down 
my share of the expenses ] " 

'" Doubtless— but " 

" But what ? Our capital is not all spent, I suppose ? " 

" We have enough — only " 

"And we are beginning the season under excellent condi- 
tions. Amongst the horses which we purchased from Lord 
Winter with their engagements, are two with which we 
ought to do wonders, Drawn Sword and Snowflake ; the first 
will very likely win the Grand Prix, and the second the 
Produce Stakes." 

" I have the same hopes that you have, but just one last 
question : if the bill that Mme. de Sartilly signed is not paid 
at maturity, what will happen 1 " 

" You might just as well ask me when the moon will drop 
on to the earth, one is as possible as the other." 

" It was impossible as long as you were on good terms 
with your wife, but now " 

" Now more than ever so. M. Vacheron will pay it." 

" The reason that I put the question to you, my dear 
Sartilly, is because the lender is getting uneasy, and yester- 
day at the club he told me that he should go after to-day, 
and show the bill to your father-in-law, and ask him if he 
would meet it." 

" Present the bill before it becomes due ! that would be a 



182 Fickle Heart 

complete breach of our convention," returned M. de Sartilly, 
quickly. " It has never been accepted, and this man pro- 
mised to retain it in his own hands until the 15th of June." 
" I know that," answered Saint Senier, "but what can you 
expect 1 a cardroom waiter is not a gentleman. Augustus for 
some days past has heard the likelihood of your divorce 
talked about everywhere, and that you are ruined, lock, 
stock, and barrel, so that he has lost his head a little, and I 
don't wonder at it. Three hundred thousand francs is a 
big sum, however rich he may be. He is absolutely on 
thorns, and cannot sleep." 

"He will do so soon. I will undertake to smoothe his 
pillow." 

" And you will act wisely, my dear fellow, for in the state 
of mind that he is, he is quite capable of committing some act 
of folly, which might be prejudicial to your interests. You 
cannot imagine how excited he has become by the ideas that 
he conjures up. Do you know he asked me whether now 
that the Countess had definitely quarrelled with you, she 
might not declare that she had never signed the bill at all." 

Sartilly had great command over himself, but he grew pale 
at these words. " Ah ! " said he in a hoarse voice, " Does 
his audacity go so far as to accuse me of having committed 
forgery ? " 

'' No, no. I do not think that he goes as far as that," 
returned M. de .Saint Senier, hastily ; " only if he went to 
M Vacheron and there was an unpleasant scene, do you 
not think that it would be well to avoid such a risk ? " 
" Yes, I do, and I will take measures to prevent it." 
" May I ask how you will' do that 1 " asked the suspicious 
Viscount. 

"I was about to tell you. Shall you see Augustus 
to-day \ " 

" Yes, I am going to the club at four o'clock to introduce 
M. George ( 'ezambre. Augustus will certainly be there." 

" Well, then, tell him from me that on Monday or Tues- 
day I will retire the bill." 
" What ! By paying it 1 " 

" By paying it in cash. My wife signed it for me in a 
moment of affection, when she could refuse me nothing, and 
no doubt she bitterly regrets having done so now. I will 
take no advantage of her. She has no doubt confessed her 
weakness to her father, who expects to have to pay up on 
the 15th of June, and I intend to give myself the pleasure of 
letting him rage and fume, and on the day of its maturity I 
will give him a surprise by showing him that I can do with- 
out him or his daughter." 



"I zoitl do it" 183 

" That will be excellent, but — see — ! to-day is Wednesday, 
and on Tuesday next you will pay up three hundred thousand 
francs. It is an easy thing to say, but " 

" Easier 1 to say than to do, you mean. However, it will be 
done. If I had any doubt, I should not be so positive, and I 
trust that you are not going to ask me for an explanation as 
to my ways and means of doing it 1 " 

" Your word is quite sufficient, my dear fellow, all my 
uneasiness has disappeared, and I look on you for the future as 
a model partner. And now let us talk of our business. You 
know that things are looking well. Snowflake's last few 
gallops at Mortcerf have been most satisfactory, and Harris, 
our trainer, is delighted. Mowbridge is to have the 
mount." 

"Mowbridge told me yesterday that he could win the 
Produce Stakes by two lengths,'' said Gontran. 

" Do you think that Mowbridge is all right 1 " asked Saint 
Senier, with his customary suspicion. 

" He is as safe as any one we could get. He has ridden 
seventeen winners in England. Lord Winter guaranteed 
not only his skill, but his honesty, and what can you ask for, 
more than that 1 " 

"Oh ! nothing, certainly. I shall put my last coin on 
the colt, and I suppose you will do the same. It is an oppor- 
tunity that we shall not get again for a long time." 

" I shall have all that I am worth on Snowflake. I have 
already fifteen hundred louis on with Saffery, but that is a 
mere nothing. I shall wait for Sunday to go on a bu'ster, as 
they say." 

" Take care. Snowflake is going up in the betting every 
hour. On the day of the race it will be five to one on him." 

" I hope to get on at a better price than that, and I shall 
act so as to win a real pile. I may not ruin the big book- 
maker, but I will give him a squeeze, I can tell you." 

" Well, I shan't go to work on so large a scale as you, but 
then I have not the same notions. But — and remember this 
is between ourselves — I can't help feeling astonished that 
William Oxwall, who is as fly as any of them, should lay the 
big suras that he has against our horse. If report is to be 
depended on, Snowflake's victory will cost him a million." 

" The sharpest are taken in sometimes. But don't alarm 
yourself about him, he will have hedged, I expect. Who can 
say if he has not backed our horse with the other book- 
makers. The doings of these fellows are about as easy to 
see through as a bottle of ink." 

" Oh ! " returned Saint Senier, with a slight sneer, 
" Oxwall's ruin would be as much a matter of indifference to 



184 Fickle Seaft 

me, as yours would grieve me. But let us make arrange- 
ments for our victory and let everything else go. You know 
our horse comes up this evening. He is in good hard condi- 
tion, and the journey is so short that he will not be a bit 
knocked up. His stall is ready for him at Borne's at the 
Madrid." 

" I know that, I shall go and see him to-morrow morning." 

" And I, some time during the day with my wife, who has 
asked me to show him to her." 

" I did not know Mme. de Saint Senier was so interested 
in animals," answered Gontran, with a sarcastic smile, " but 
of course you cannot refuse her that pleasure. But the 
affair is a serious one for me, and I intend to watch over 
Snowflake, for he represents a fortune to me. I suspect no 
one, but I distrust everyone. I have heard of bookmakers, 
who were interested in a horse losing a race, bribing the 
stableman, and a lad can very easily slip in a drug during 
feeding time. Snowflake shall not touch a morsel without 
my being present, for I shall sleep to-morrow at the Madrid, 
and shall be a good deal more in the stable, I expect, than 
in my bed." 

" Ah, now you speak what I call properly, and my mind 
is at ease. I have no doubt of success, my dear Gontran, 
and I thank you for it in advance, for it will be to your 
watchfulness that we shall owe it." 

" Do not thank me, old fellow ; are not our interests 
the same ? I am working for myself, as much as I am for 
you, and now I suppose you do not want to dissolve our little 
partnership ? " 

" .Less tnan ever ; besides, I have never thought seriously 
of it." 

" Well, if you want to do me a favour, when you get to the 
club call up Augustus, you seem to have some influence over 
him — and get him to keep quiet until Tuesday." 

" I will not fail to do so ; but why don't you come to the 
club yourself 1 " 

"Becausel do not care about meeting your youngfriend from 
Mauritius ; besides, I have a word or two to say to Oxwall." 

" Farewell, then ; put on the money, and act boldly. It is 
a certainty, and in three days you will not require M. 
"Vacheron's assistance. I am going to my wife to try and 
persuade her not to come and see Snowflake ; by Jove, if she 
were to caress him she would bring me ill-luck." 

" Eeally, I should not have thought that Mme. de Saint 
Senier's caresses were so injurious to your interests," returned 
Goutran, with an irony which his friend affected not to 
perceive. 



" I ivill do it " 185 

Sartilly turned towards the stables, where he hoped to 
meet the bookmaker. Up to the last he had hesitated ; for 
a few of the feelings of a gentleman still clung to him, and 
he had vaguely hoped that something would turn up to rescue 
him from the quagmire in which he was embedded, without 
his being compelled to have recourse to dishonourable pro- 
ceedings. But after his conversation with his partner, he 
felt that he had no choice, and that delay would simply mean 
ruin. 

He found William Oxwall in one corner of the arena, 
amusing himself by betting a few louis with men of his own 
stamp, just to keep their hands in. When Oxwall was not 
doing his business, he had all the air of an English gentle- 
man, with even much more distinction than M. de Saint 
Senier, though the Viscount did all he could to assume the 
true Britannic manner and appearance. As soon as he per- 
ceived M. de Sartilly, he left his friends and came up to him. 
Gontran drew him on one side, and said shortly, " you asked 
me to give you a definite answer, and I firing it to you. You 
can go on — / will do it." 

"I congratulate you, Count," exclaimed the bookmaker. 
" To day you ai - e my debtor ; on Sunday evening you will be my 
creditor, but not for long, for I pay cash, as you know. As 
for me, I shall have made my fortune." 

" Let us first begin by settling the conditions. If Snow- 
flake is beaten you will win a great deal of money, I know it 
for a fact, but what shall I gain ? As I stand at present, I 
shall lose thirty thousand francs, for which I have backed 
the horse with Saffery. That I see plainly. But if Snow- 
flake does not come in first, I cannot say what horse will." 

"I can give you an outsider that is now at sixty to one, 
and which I think has a good chance of winning, and that is 
Oash-on-Delivery. No one has taken any notice of him, and 
I should not be a bit surprised if he carried off the stakes, 
in the event, of course, of anything happening to Snowflake. 
A thousand louis, or even five hundred laid on this unknown 
colt, would bring you in a heavy sum, but of course I cannot 
be absolutely certain that he will beat the other ones that 
have been entered ; but as we are doing business together, it 
is necessary that your gains should be sure. I therefore pro- 
pose to make a division ; that is to say, if I pull in two millions 
I will give you one, deducting from it the four thousand 
louis which you owe me. Does that seem fair to you 1 " 

" Yes, but when shall I have the money ? " 

" Three or four days after the race. I have some wealthy 
customers who do not settle until the next day, but if you 
want anything on account " 



186 Fickle Heart 

" I want three hundred thousand francs directly after the 
race." 

"Count, you shall have your three hundred thousand 
francs directly after the race is run,' - ' answered the book- 
maker boldly ; " and if so much money will be troublesome to 
carry away, I will give you a cheque on Rothschild, who 
keeps my account. On Tuesday I can I think pay you the 
balance. ' 

" Tuesday will suit me very well indeed," replied Sartilly, 
who had on that day arranged to retire the bill in the hands 
of the card-room waiter. 

" Then we are agreed on all points ? " asked Oxwall. 

" One more question : how am I to know what sum our 
operation, as you call it, has brought in ? " 

Oxwall smiled a little contemptuously. " I could reassure 
you, Count, by saying that all arrangements like ours must be 
carried on with reciprocal confidence, for the law does not 
recognise them — indeed, it forbids them. There is nothing to 
prevent my breaking my word, and retaining the whole 
profit of the transaction, for you could not sue me before any 
court. Only if I did so, I should be a scoundrel, and I hope 
I am something better than that. I may not have many 
scruples, but I meet my engagements, and the more risky an 
arrangement is, the more honesty should there be in carrying 
it out." 

" You are quite right — but '' 

" There is nothing to prevent you, Count, from changing 
your mind, between this and Sunday, and completely ruining 
me by letting your horse run on the square." 

" Running on the square " in the slang of the turf means to 
allow a horse honestly to do his best to win, and the 
expression was like the stroke of a whip to Gontran's 
pride. 

" I know that you would not do such a thing," continued 
Oxwall, coldly, " and I trust to your honour. Your word is 
sufficient to me. You do not, however, trust to mine. This 
doubt on your part does not wound me in the least, and in- 
stead of being angry with you, I will endeavour to set your 
mind at rest. My books are always in order and are kept 
with clearness and simplicity, and I will show them to you 
after the race. You can go over them, and after you have 
satisfied yourself, and struck a balance, you will know exactly 
what amount I owe you. It appears to me that I cannot be 
more open than I am with you." 

Gontran's head sunk on his breast, the flush of shame 
mounted to his cheek, for he was forced to confess to himself 
that in his disrassion with the adventurer of the racecourse, 



"I will do it" 187 

the one who had shown himself the best gentleman was not 
the Count de Sartilly. 

" Good," said he abruptly. " I have never distrusted you, 
and you can have confidence in me. We shall meet at Long- 
champs on Sunday." 

" Do you know, Count, how to make use of the grains in the 
little bottle ? " asked the bookmaker. 

" Yes — yes." 

" And at what time to administer them. On the morning 
of the race, when the horse has had his last feed of hay. The 
grains must be put on his tongue, two or three only at a time 
otherwise he will reject them, and remember this can only 
be done in the absence of the lad who looks after him." 

" I sleep to-morrow at the Madrid, the horse is going to 
Borne's stables." 

" Very well, it will be extremely easy for you to send the 
lad off for a time on some pretext ; then there is Mowbridge 
the jockey, I know him well, he is a very cautious, and 
excessively inquisitive, an excellent rider, but if he suspected 
anything, he would want to be paid for holding his tongue." 

" I understand — good bye," exclaimed Gontran, who was 
anxious to get away from these bits of advice, which seemed 
to stir up the mud into which he had plunged . 

"Good-day, Count," returned the bookmaker, "I have 
only one request to make. Your resolution, you say, is taken, 
but I must take my precautions. If by any chance, you 
should change your mind before the race is run, I shall have no 
cause of complaint, only, I hope that you will warn me in 
time." 

" Such a thing will not occur." 

" I believe you, but if by any impossible means such an 
event did take place, kindly take a note of my address. I 
reside 169, Avenue de Neuilly. I shall remain at home all 
day. On Sunday, I shall breakfast at home, and shall not 
leave for the course until one o'clock, so that you will have 
plenty of time to give me notice. A letter or a wire which 
will reach me at the last moment will be sufficient to give me 
time to turn round in. I shall certainly lose a great deal of 
money, for I have laid heavily against your horse, and given 
good prices, but even then I shall be able to hedge on the 
course. You do not, I suppose, desire to ruin me 1 " 

"Certainly not. I understand you perfectly, and you can 
rely on me in any case." 

'• It is also understood that if Snowflake wins you will 
settle up with me without further delay, for I shall require 
all the money I can scrape together," 

" I shall see you on Sunday at your post," said Gontran, 



138 Fickle Heart 

" and shall tell you then that all is settled ; meanwhile I 
agree to your conditions." With these concluding words 
Gontran turned away, and made for the place of exit, for he 
was only too anxious to get away from the man to whom he 
had sold his honour. 

There are some hardened criminals who enjoy the society 
of their accomplices, but fallen as Gontran was, he had not 
yet sunk to that depth of degradation. 



CHAPTEE XXII 

THE LADIBS' BATTLE 

Whilst the conversation between Gontran and Oxwall had 
been proceeding, the former's respectable partner M. de Saint 
Senier had joined a group of sporting men who had gathered 
round the horses which were standing before the committee 
box. Every variety of amateur was represented in this collec- 
tion of men who affected to be judges of horse-flesh. There 
was the county gentleman, heavily-built, with a velveteen 
coat, and a cutting whip under his arm, with one eye on the 
horses, and the other on the ladies ; the old general officer 
with grey moustache, abusing the animals which he called 
" screws," and cursing the English terms used by his neigh- 
bour, a member of some sporting club ; and lastly, to 
complete the series, there was the gentleman who had never 
been across a horse in his life, and who understood nothing 
about them, but had come here because it was the right 
thing, and who was perpetually losing himself by using 
racing terms of the meaning of which he had not the slightest 
comprehension, but which he had caught up from the con- 
versation of passing grooms and stablemen. There were 
ladies also who had come down from their seats, some 
escorted like princesses by men of their own class, rich, 
haughty, and noble ; and others under the protection of 
cavaliers of a lower standing ; young mashers and middle- 
aged men, who did not mind compromising themselves by 
being seen in public by the side of a pretty girl. The politic 
M. de Saint Senier was amongst the last ; he had caught 
sight of Diana de Ganges in one of the passages, and would 
certainly have offered her his arm, had she not already been 
leaning upon that of George Cezambre, whom he was to 
introduce to the club when the show was over. The time 
therefore to open a flirtation with the beautiful Diana would 
not have been happily chosen, the more so that the military 
competitions had just begun, and the jumping contest was 



The Ladies' Battle 189 

in full operation. Diana and George had placed themselves 
in the first row of the spectators, and were watching the 
proceedings, Diana, especially, with the greatest interest. 
Saint Senier, therefore, thought it would be best to wait for 
the end of the competition, and he drew back, without 
losing sight of the couple, and leant against one of the 
pillars that supported the stand. From the position he had 
chosen he could only see the backs of the spectators in the 
first rank, but in spite of that he soon recognised his wife, 
and the little Baroness de Jtechampy, who had come close to 
the arena, and were only separated from Diana by a small 
group of gentlemen. Mme. de Saint Senier and the woman 
who had forfeited her position, could not at the present 
moment see each other ; but if the gentleman moved, the 
ladies would at once come in contact, and a terrible storm 
would most likely be the result. A husband of another 
stamp would have endeavoured to lose himself in the crowd, 
but Saint Senier remained where he was, for he would not 
at all have objected to have witnessed from a safe distance 
an altercation between his wife, whom he cordially detested, 
and Diana de Ganges, for whom he had taken a great fancy 
He had his wish sooner than he thought. 

Diana, who did not know that she was within earshot of her 
ridiculous rival, did not hesitate to criticise all the officers 
as they passed before her. She addressed herself to George, 
but her voice was raised sufficiently high to reach the ear of 
Mme. de Saint Senier, and she spoke like a really qualified 
critic, for when at the house of the Sartillys she had been in 
the habit of riding every morning. 

" He sits too stiffly," said, she, " and oh, how badly he is 
dressed, with hideous regulation boots, and a switch instead 
of a whip, yet he took his horse over the fence without 
touching it. That one, hasn't a bad seat, but he sits a little 
too forward, and looks about too much ; see there, he bows 
to some girl he knows ; he has no style, decidedly none 
at all." 

George was much pleased with these criticisms, and Diana, 
delighted at his amusement, began once more . 

" Ah, that captain has breeding, and that is more than his 
horse has ; he did the salute well. One can easily see that 
he did not learn to ride in the regimental riding-school, he 
must have had a pony to ride when he was five years old ;" 
then referring to the officer who followed him : " Here is a 
giant 1 why even without his breast-plate he looks like one of 
the knights of old ; and what a seat, he never moves, no more 
than if he was a statue, and when he comes to the fence he 
does not lift his horse until the last moment, There is at 



190 Fickle Heart 

least one noble lady here who ought certainly to fall in love 
with him, for she is fond of big men — our fine Viscountess ! " 

This little allusion to the taste of the Viscountess for the 
herculean style of men, was uttered in too high a key, and at 
the wrong moment, for the little knot of gentlemen had 
by this time almost entirely mov.ed away, and as Diana 
spoke, she found herself almost face to face with Mme. Saint 
Senier. The last phrase was like a match applied to a powder 
magazine. 

" I suppose that you are referring to me when you speak of 
the fine Viscountess ?" said Mme. de Saint Senier, spitefully. 

"If the cap fits, you are welcome to wear it," returned 
Diana, calmly. 

Amongst men such an answer would have certainly led to 
a duel. With ladies of the li half world" of both high and 
low degree, a commencement of this kind would have 
promptly led to fisticuffs, but these ladies both of high birth 
and education, contented themselves with words, each one 
of which was as dangerous as a swordthrust. 

" It seems to me that you like them young," said the Vis- 
countess, glancing at George. 

" You don't dislike them yourself. It was not your fault 
if M. Oezanibre escaped safe and sound from your Tower de 
Nesle in the Rue Villejust," answered Diana. 

" What is that you dare to say, you vile hussy 1 " 

" I laugh at your abuse, Madame Potiphar." 

" Do you know that I can have you turned out of this 
place ; women of your class have no right here." 

" I am sorry that you haven't brought your coachman 
with you to do so. I should have liked to have seen you 
walk about on his arm, but you are afraid to show him in 
public for fear some one should take him away from you." 

In the twinkling of an eye, the voices of the two ladies 
had risen to a key that excited general attention. 

" Hulloa, what fun," said one girl to another. "Here are 
two ladies from swelldom going to pull caps." 

Diana blushed as she heard these words and regretted that 
she had permitted herself to go so far. Since the allusion to 
the coachman, the Viscountess had remained silent, stifled 
with rage, and the battle stopped short. 

Amongst the spectators there were those who presented a 
strange figure. The little Baroness, much scandalised, 
tried to put on an air of dignity, and prepared to 
make her escape. George, who was much annoyed, en- 
deavoured to draw Diana away, and Saint Senier, who was 
annoyed at his wife's making a spectacle of herself, but 
delighted chat she h;>,d received no sharp a lesson, waited 



The Ladies' Battle 191 

until he considered that the proper moment had arrived for 
him to intervene. When Diana made her allusion to the 
coachman, he thought that the time had come, and stepping 
forward with the greatest coolness, he showed himself, and 
addressing his wife, said : " Will you take my arm, my dear 
Jeanne, and I will escort you to your carriage." Then as she 
hesitated, he added, " Madame de Edchampy will, I am sure, 
excuse you, for if you remain here any longer the heat which 
has already affected you will perhaps severely incommode 
you ; " then turning to George with a bow, he continued, 
" My dear sir, in an hour you will find me at the club, where 
you know I promised to present you to the gentlemen who 
elected you to-day." 

The Viscountess at last made up her mind to take her 
husband's arm, who politely bowed to Mile, de Ganges with 
a smile which plainly said, " My position as a husband 
compels me to remain neutral, but I am not at all angry with 
you for having given my wife a lesson." And he then left 
the building, pulling Mme. de Saint Senier after him. No 
one could have extricated himself more adroitly from an 
awkward position ; a fool would have made a scene ; an ill- 
bred man would have asked for an explanation, but the 
Viscount contented himself with cutting the thing short, and 
doing it in such a way as to profit by it afterwards. For 
the last two months there had been unpleasantnesses in his 
household which formerly had been a model of peace and 
quietness. Mme. de Saint Senier had permitted herself to 
make some remarks on his manner of living, and when he 
had taken upon himself to blame several things in her 
behaviour, his wife had retaliated. Had she not recently 
taken upon herself to advise him to dissolve his partnership 
with M. de Sartilly 1 He permitted her to do as she liked 
as long as she did not interfere with what he did, and the 
present was an excellent opportunity for him to re-establish 
in his house a despotic form of government which was the 
only one that suited him. " My dear," began he, as he led 
her to the place of exit, " you have just been behaving like 
a fishwife." 

" It was that vile girl who insulted me ! " exclaimed the 
Viscountess. 

" You should not have answered her. Happily no one of our 
o wn class was there to hear you. Madame Rochampy, your friend , 
is a woman of no position, and does not count, and I was 
able to put an end to this ridiculous scene. Let it pass this 
once, but do not begin again. Now, however, I have some- 
thing important to say to you, which I beg you to listen to 
eeriour-ly. Since I married you, J left you entire liberty o f 



192 Fi c kU Heart 

action. This, you have used, and also abused, but I am not 
going to reproach you with this ; only I warn you seriously 
that if you compromise yourself too much, I shall be obliged 
to take immediate steps. I have just heard allusions to 
certain things which I did not at all like. You understand 
me, I think. Very well, if it was satisfactorily proved to me 
that you had descended so low, I should certainly proceed 
criminally against both you and your lover. I trust that 
you will not force me to go to such lengths, but if I have to 
do so, endeavour to choose one that you will not have cause 
to blush for, when you are seated beside him in the dock." 

The Viscountess was thoroughly frightened ; never had her 
husband spoken to her in that strain before, and she vainly 
asked herself the cause of this sudden fit of conjugal 
susceptibility. " And now," continued Saint Senier, calmly, 
" I am going to make my own conditions. I am most anxious 
not to have to occupy myself with what you do, but I intend 
to be perfectly free also, free to dispose of my person and my 
fortune, and if it pleases me to ruin myself or make myself con- 
spicuous with any other woman, I will not permit you to make 
the slightest observation on the subject. And see here, if you 
wish to live on good terms with me, abstain from making 
the slightest attacks upon M. Cezambre. You will only lose 
your time, for I have taken him under my protection, and 
have had him elected a member of my club. Don't you in- 
terfere with him, and let his young lady alone. I also forbid 
you to mix yourself up with the conjugal troubles of our 
neighbour Sartilly." 

On arriving at the place where the carriage was standing, 
M. de Saint Senier handed his wife in, stared at the coach- 
man, who appeared very uneasy under his master's eye, and 
lighting a cigar, walked down the Champs Elysees to his club 
which was not far off. As he walked along he chuckled to 
himself at having so well applied the theories which he had 
formerly ventilated to Gontran ; after having given his wife 
her head for a little he had now put on the curb, and used 
the whip freely, and he was certain that for some time at 
least the Viscountess would not attempt to kick over the 
traces. 

But he was still very doubtful as to the financial position 
of his partner. He did not believe in the existence of those 
resources which Gontran boasted that he possessed, and he 
placed but little reliance on the successes on the turf which 
were to set him on his legs again. The great point was, that 
the bill drawn upon M. Vacheron should be paid, and this he 
doubted, in spite of the positive assertion in the affirmative 
made by M. de Sartilly. 



FICKLE HEART 



VOLUME TWO 
CHAPTEE XXIII 

THE PLAN OF DEFENCE 

If the bill were not met the Viscount would lose all, for 
Augustus had only discounted it on his guarantee, and 
because he had but to obey orders. The waiter certainly 
had money of his own, but he worked with M. de Saint 
Senier, and the noble gentleman did not hesitate to lend 
money on exorbitant terms to the members of his club 
through the introductions of one of the valets. 

In fact, he was the real creditor of Gontran, and he did not 
wish to be so any longer. 

Augustus, who had heard the reports concerning M. de 
Sartilly, had proposed to go to his father-in-law, and clear 
up the matter at once, but Saint Senier would not authorise 
him to do so until he had talked over the matter with his 
partner. 

He was not satisfied with the explanations that he had 
received, and had now made up his mind. 

He had no sooner reached the club than he sent for 
Augustus. 

" There must be an end to this," said he ; " you have the 
bill with you?" 

" Yes, it is in my pocket-book." 

" Very well, then take it at once to M. Vacheron, Rue de 
la Neva." 

" I know the house — only suppose he won't see me?" 

" You must make some pretext, for you must absolutely 
see him to-day, even if you wait for him in the street." 

" I will invent some excuse, and see him." 

" I do not think that you will have any trouble. The 



194 FicBe Heart 

man lives in Very simple style, and is not denied to anyone. 
When you are ushered up you will accost him with the 
greatest politeness, and will explain that you have not come 
for the amount of the bill, which is not yet due, but you 
only have come, to know his intentions regarding it. You 
will point out that the largeness of the sum warrants your 
making this inquiry, and you will add that in your character 
of a man of business you have thought it right to address 
yourself to him as a former member of the Tribunal of 
Commerce." 

" And suppose he says plainly that he won't pay 1 " 
" You will tell him as plainly, that you are determined to 
sue Mme. de Sartilly for the amount. Then I warrant he 
will yield. Go, and come back as soon as you can. I shall 
await your return with impatience." 

" But, my lord, forgive me — one must leave nothing to 
chance — suppose after having seen the bill, he says that his 
daughter's signature is a forgery \ " 

M. de Saint Senier bit his lip, reflected for a moment, and 
then replied : " In that case you will tell him that you will 
send his son-in-law into penal servitude. Now go at once." 

Whilst Augustus proceeds on his errand, let us view the 
ground where he will operate. 

Since M. Vacheron had recovered his daughter everything 
had changed in his abode at the Rue de la iNeva. Certainly 
Valentine had not brought back gaiety and merriment with 
her, but the good old man was so happy to have his daughter 
with him once again, that in order to promote her comfort 
he altered all his habits, some of which had become almost 
second nature to him. He gave up his long walks which 
were so conducive to his health, and only went out with her 
when she wished, and then they did not go far, for his 
daughter since her marriage had lost the habit of walking, 
and much exercise fatigued her. He had proposed to buy 
her a carriage, horses, a country house, to take her to the 
theatre, into the country, to the seaside, to Switzerland, but 
nothing seemed to tempt her. Had he been able, he would 
have invented for her new pleasures, but he was deficient in 
imagination and experience in such matters, having always 
lived outside the world of Parisian amusements ; and besides 
this, he could not fail to perceive that she had made up her 
mind to live a life of complete isolation ; and in the end he 
had confessed that perhaps she was not wrong to do so for a 
time, and he resigned himself to await the period until 
Valentine's grief had calmed down, and until the talk 
which the rupture had caused had died away. He allowed 
that she must feel so abrupt a termination of her married 



The Plan of Defence 195 

life, and, though he never met anyone belonging to the 
society in which Mme. de Sartilly had previously mixed 
with, he could not help knowing that the scandal must have 
been very great. But, after all, he knew that in Paris things 
are rapidly forgotten, and he hoped that Valentine would 
sooner or later console herself. He therefore redoubled all 
his attentions, and knowing how fond she was of flowers, he 
tilled his rooms with them, and bore with the greatest 
courage the unpleasant sensations that the perfume caused 
him. Then he endeavoured to brighten her up by talking 
with her, but unfortunately his conversation was not of an 
amusing character, for he could only talk on business 
matters, which did not interest his daughter, or repeat 
recollections of his earlier days, which she knew by heart, 
and only too soon he saw that instead of amusing her he 
wearied her. As a substitute for his own incompetency 
he would willingly have called in some friends, but who 
could he invite 1 He had only kept up his acquaintanceship 
with some old business people, and his daughter would 
hardly appreciate their society. There was always Trevieres, 
and he could talk easily and well on many subjects ; but he, 
from motives of delicacy, kept in the background. He had 
heard of the species of elopement that had been organised by 
Diana de Ganges, and he had refused to take any active part 
in it, and since Mme. de Sartilly had been at her father's house 
he had only called once, and even then he had cut his call 
very short, to the intense disgust of the ex-contractor, who 
could not understand any such refinement of feeling on the 
part of his visitor. The same sentiment that had hindered 
the young engineer from calling often in the Eue de la Neva 
had prevented Valentine from urging him to prolono- his 
visit. From equally praiseworthy motives Mile, de Ganges 
kept away from her former friend. She only made her ap- 
pearance at rare intervals, and carefully abstained from 
bringing George with her. She considered that she had 
•done enough in rescuing Valentine from her unworthy hus- 
band, and that her interference would now do more 
harm than good. Like a clever woman, Diana felt that 
Mme. de Sartilly, living as she was apart from her hus- 
band, must not afford the slightest opportunity for ill- 
natured gossip, and that the acquaintanceship of a woman 
in her position would be most injurious to her. Perhaps 
in course of time the situation might change, but at present 
Diana felt that, living openly as she was with George 
Cezambre, it would be better for her to keep away from 
her old friend. Valentine had understood, or seemed to 
understand, that in her own interests she must not expect to 



196 Fickle Heart 

see too much of Diana, who would not be less ready and 
willing to be of service to her whenever the occasion required 
and to preserve a link of communication between them it 
had been arranged that Lisa, who was now definitely installed 
in the Villa des Primeveres, should come every day to the 
Rue de la Neva, to convey intelligence ^between the two ladies. 
Both father and daughter therefore lived a solitary life ; 
Valentine plunged in silent grief, and Vacheron as sad as 
she, and tortured by the most poignant anxiety as to his 
beloved child's future. Valentine seemed to think that 
matters might remain as they were for an indefinite period, 
but Vacheron knew only too well that sooner or later the 
affair would have to be settled in some manner, and he 
thought that the earlier this was effected the better it would 
be for all parties concerned. The only question was, should 
it be a judicial separation or a divorce, and of the two 
Vacheron was in favour of the divorce. It was also necessary 
that the Court should restore to the Countess, who had 
been married under settlement, the free administration of her 
property, ousting her husband from the position that he now 
held ; and the ex-contractor paid particular attention to this 
last point, for having as he had, every reason to hate his son- 
in-law, he had lost no time in consulting his solicitor, who 
had plainly told him that in either case the suit must be 
brought by Mme. de Sartilly, who had attained her majority 
more than a year before, and was therefore fully competent 
to plead against her husband without having to go through 
a third party. Vacheron had endeavoured to induce her to 
do this, but she had positively declined to do so, and had 
relapsed into a silence as depressing as it was inexplicable. 
Her father, who did not understand her exact position, asked 
himself if in the depths of her heart, there was not some wish 
tending to a reconciliation with Gontran ; but evidently 
this was not the case, for after a protracted silence she had 
at last spoken, and begged her father never to mention her 
husband's name to her again. Therefore she evidently 
wished to forget this unworthy husband entirely, and would 
never return to him again. This was a great point gained, 
and Vacheron did not despair of obtaining by degrees her 
consent to take legal measures to dissolve her union with 
Gontran. He had at first believed that his detested son-in- 
law would commence hostilities by legally summoning his 
wife to return to the conjugal roof, and if the case once came 
into Court, Vacheron had determined to make capital out of 
Valentine's refusal, who would certainly decline to return to 
her husband's house. But the Count de Sartilly had given 
no signs of life since his wife's departure, and was no doubt 



The Plan of Defence 197 

glad enough to have regained his liberty without having to 
settle accounts with her, or his father-in-law. What use was 
he making of this liberty, and what was going on in the 
house that Valentine had deserted ? Vacheron was entirely 
ignorant on this subject. He never saw anyone who moved 
in the same circles as Sartilly, and as for the house, he took 
care to give it a wide berth. He did not even know the real 
reason that had impelled Valentine to leave her husband's 
house in so precipitate a manner ; she had only told him that 
she had fled to save herself from ill-treatment, but she had 
not told him in what it consisted, and he, only too happy to 
have her once again with him, had made no special inquiries ; 
whilst Diana, who was better informed, had kept her promise 
to say nothing to M. Vacheron of the attempt to poison, nor 
had she mentioned it to either George or Lisa. The 
Countess alone knew that her husband was a villain, and 
even she, since quitting his roof, had sometimes her doubts 
on the matter. 

Mile, de Ganges was right, she was not entirely cured yet. 
One day, the same on which Diana had had her memorable 
quarrel at the horse show, Lisa made her daily call on 
Miue. de Sartilly, and found the father and daughter seated 
opposite each other in the drawing-room, which M. Vacheron's 
thoughtfulness had filled with flowers, and who, being 
unable to extract a word from his daughter, had commenced 
smoking his pipe, one of his old habits which the Countess 
permitted. He liked Lisa very well, and gave her hearty 
welcome. " Ah ! there you are," exclaimed he, " and how 
are the lovers of the villa 1 " 

" My master and mistress have gone to-day to the horse 
show." 

" Very good, if that amuses them, but it would bore me 
awfully. I hate horses there, as well as anywhere else. Do 
you bring any news 1 " 

" Nothing of any importance, sir ; but in coming here I 
met Francis, M. de Sartilly's valet in the Avenue d'Eylau." 

" Well, if you have nothing better to tell us than 
that 1 " 

" I spoke to him, and perhaps her ladyship would be glad 
to learn what he told me." 

" And so should I too, especially if he told you what his 
master was doing." 

" M. de Sartilly has in no way changed his habits. He 
rides as usual every morning, goes to the Bois for breakfast, 
dines at his club, and remains there very late. But Francis 
was present on the night when the Count came home after 
Mile, de Ganges had persuaded the Countess to leave," 



198 Fickle Heart 

Valentine raised her head as though to listen. She did not 
know what had passed in her room after she had left it, and 
she was most anxious to know. 

" Her ladyship will be very much surprised," continued 
Lisa, " but when the Count came home he thought at first 
that she was dead ! " 

" What !" exclaimed Vacheron. "Did he think that my 
daughter was dead 1 Then he must have doue all he could 
to kill her." 

" I do not know, sir," answered Lisa, " but this is what 
Francis told me. He was waiting up for his master, as he 
does every night, and was talking in the hall with her new 
maid, when the Count, who does not often return so early, 
came in. It was then about one o'clock." 

" Happily she was far enough off by that time. "What did 
he do next 1 Did be ask about his wife ? " 

" He began by sending off Francis, saying that for this 
night he would dispense with his services, and that he could 
go to bed ; then he went up straight to the Countess's 
room. Florence remained below, and Francis was also still 
there, when M. de Sartilly called them from the top of the 
staircase. They went up and found their master in the little 
sitting-room, which leads into the bed-chamber, and he was 
knocking at the door, which he was unable to open, as it was 
closed from the inside. He asked Florence if she had helped 
her mistress to undress, but she replied that her mistress 
had told her that she had no occasion for her services and 
that she thought that she must have been in bed long since." 
"Then he must have believed that Valentine was waiting 
up for him, do you see 1 '' 

" He said that he had knocked quite loud enough 
to have aroused his wife had she been asleep, and he began to 
strike on the panels again. But naturally as her ladyship 
was not there, no one answered. Francis could not under- 
stand it at all, but he says that Florence did not appear much 
surprised. The Count cried out, ' Something has happened ! 
Was the garden gate carefully closed to-night ? Some 
criminal may have got in, it is easy to reach her window. I 
must know what has happened. Break open the door ! ' " 
" And they obeyed him ? " 

"Florence did nothing, but Francis snatched up one of the 
heavy dogs from the fireplace in the little sitting-room, those 
brass dogs of the time of Louis XVI., which weigh, I don't 
know how many pounds, and in three blows he broke in the 
door." 

" My dear son-in-law must have been much surprised when 
he only found an empty room," 



The Plan of Defence 199 

" He rushed up to the bed, and found it empty ; for a 
moment he appeared thunderstuck, but all was the work of 
a moment. Then he perceived the open window ; he went 
to it — the ladder was still there leaning against the wall ! 
then he muttered, ' All right, I understand.' He was pale 
with rage ; then he turned round, and looked at the servants, 
especially Florence, with such a wicked glance, but she has 
plenty of pluck and did not seem to care a bit for him or 
anyone else. Francis says, that he thinks there is some 
terrible secret between her and the Count." 

"A secret?" said M. Vacheron. 

" Yes ; and if one was to divulge it, the other would be in 
a nasty fix. There is one thing certain, and that is, that 
Florence never lost her presence of mind for a moment. 
There was a glass of water on a stand near the bed, Florence 
took it up. Francis thought that she was going to drink it ; 
but no, she only walked to the window, and threw the 
contents of it out into the garden." 

" Did not Sartilly ask her why she took this precaution ? " 

" No, sir ; I think he hardly noticed it, he was so over- 
come ; he looked everywhere, as if he was searching for 
something, and at last he discovered a large envelope, which 
had been placed on the little rosewood table upon which her 
ladyship used always to write. He glanced at the address, 
and put the letter in his pocket. Francis thought that it was 
a note that the Countess had left for her husband to tell 
him that she had gone away." 

" Is this true ? " asked Vacheron, turning to his daughter. 

" No," answered Valentine, in a stifled voice, " it was not 
a letter." 

" At any rate," continued Lisa, " he kept the envelope, and 
doubtless he knew what was inside it, for he left off searching 
at once ; then he pitched the ladder back into the garden, closed 
the window, and went to bed : at least he went up to his own 
room after having said to Francis, ' Remember not a word to 
a living soul of what has passed here to-night.' '' 

"And Florence 1 ?" asked Vacheron. 

" He did not say a word to her ; at least at the moment. 
But next day, no doubt, he had it out with her, for she 
packed up her things, and left the house for good, and all." 

" Yes ; her master had no further use for her," growled 
Vacheron. " The plot, whatever it was, was a failure. But 
Francis stayed on, I suppose 1 " 

" Yes, sir ; the Count could not do without him." 

" Francis is his willing tool ; but I am astonished that he 
tells you so much, for he must know that you are on my 
daughter's side." 



200 Fickle Heart 

" And I have not hidden the fact. But Francis is in love 
with me. Her ladyship knows it, and when I hold up the 
suga,r-plum he jumps to please me, like a dog. I have only 
to ask, and he is willing enough to speak." 

" Has he told you what his master is going to do 1 " 

" He does not know, but he thinks that M. de Sartilly is 
not very much grieved at what has happened, and that he 
will continue to iead the same life as he has done before." 

" Has any lawyer or solicitor been to the house 1 " 

" No, sir ; not a soul has been to the house, not even M. de 
Saint Senier, his racing partner; and Francis says that there 
is a coolness between them. Her ladyship's apartments were 
shut up the next day, the broken door was mended, and the 
Count took away the keys : he has had padlocks put on all 
the windows, and on the Venetian blinds. It seems as if he 
were determined that her ladyship should never get in again. 
But before he shut up everything, he went through all the 
cupboards, and emptied every drawer." 

" Good," exclaimed Yacheron, passionately. " That will be 
a fresh account for us to settle ; and now, my good girl, just 
step down and have a chat with my servants, for I wish to 
talk with my daughter ; do not go away, for perhaps I shall 
want you again presently." 

Lisa left the room without another word, casting a look of 
sympathy on her former mistress, who was doubtless going 
to he rigorously questioned by her father, as soon as she was 
alone with him. 

Yacheron began without a moment's delay. " So," said he, 
" I now know all about the scene which thou so carefully 
concealed from me. It is plain enough. Thy accursed 
husband expected on his return to find thee dead. It is as 
plain as a pikestaff ; he thought that thou hadst drank the 
poison which he had had placed in thy way. Thou knewest 
it, and yet thou did'st not say a word to me; but now, at any 
rate, I hope that thou wilt make no further effort to defend 
this scoundrel, who wished to put thee out of the way in so 
cowardly a manner." 

"Father," answered Valentine, slowly, "I have sworn never 
to see him again, and I will keep my vow. Do not ask me 
to do more. Do not ask me to condemn, or even to accuse, 
the man whose name I bear. 

" Thou shalt bear it no more, for I trust that now that 
thou wilt sue for a divorce." Then, as the Countess made 
no reply, Vacheron burst out passionately : "Then thou hast 
returned to this system of obstinate silence, which drives me 
frantic. Take care how far thou pushest me. I do not wish 
my daughter to continue the wife of a poisoner, and I swear 



The Plan of Defence 201 

that if thou ref usest to divorce him, I will denounce him to 
the Public Prosecutor." 

" If you do that father, you will simply kill me, for I should 
never survive M. de Sartilly's condemnation." 

" Thou sayest his condemnation ; thou confessest then that 
he is guilty. I know it too, but I am not certain that justice 
can touch him. The criminal intention is evident, but the 
crime has not been actually perpetrated. Then how can we 
prove that thy husband was an accessory to it 1 That vile 
creature who poured out the poison for thee took care to 
empty the glass out of the window, and she will deny every- 
thing. That fellow Francis will not bear witness against his 
master ; in fact, he has no evidence to give. I shall be asked, 
besides, what thy husband would gain by thy death, and I 
should not know what to say. He is not thine heir, and as long 
as thou livest, he can get money from thee. In doing away 
with thee he would kill the goose with the golden eggs. The 
motive for the crime escapes me. I shall discover it, but " 

" You see that you cannot take the matter into Court. 
Spare me then this disgrace." 

" If thou wishest to avoid it, tell me what thou intendest 
to do. Thou canst not remain in this position, and thou wilt 
not divorce thy husband, nor wilt thou see him again. What 
are thy intentions 1 " 

"My intention, but not my wish, is to purchase my liberty 
and my peace of mind by a pecuniary sacrifice." 

" I do not understand thee." 

" The Court will not be applied to, and there will be no 
scandal, hardly even a rumour." 

" Then thou dreamest of an amicable arrangement with a 
man who has neither honesty nor honour 1 Who will be his 
guarantee that he will keep his promises to thee 1 '' 

" I will give him leave to enjoy the fortune you gave me, 
if he on his side will consent never to attempt to force me 
to live with him again ." 

" Such an undertaking would be null and void in the 
eye of the law and, besides, I repeat to thee, he will not con- 
sider any promise of his binding." 

" I have the means of compelling him to do so. I will let 
him know that if he does not / will revoke my will," 

At the word " will " Vacheron leapt from his chair. 

" Thou hast made a will ? " exclaimed he, " and in favour 
of that man 1 " 

" Yes, I made him my sole heir." 

" And this will is in his possession ? " 

" He found it on the table where I had left it, when I 
escaped by the window to seek shelter with you." 



202 Fickle Heart 

" Unhappy girl, it was thy death-warrant that thou signed. 
And just now I asked, what motive hehad in having thee 
poisoned." 

" Fortunately," continued Vacheron, after a short pause, 
" a will can always be revoked, and there is nothing to 
prevent thee executing another, but had'st thou died that 
night, as he hoped, he would have inherited all thy property, 
and the villain would indeed have made a splendid stroke of 
business. But now, begin by telling me the whole truth ; this 
idea of will-making did not come into thy head of itself. Thy 
husband first suggested it to thee ?" 

"No, no," murmured Mme. de Sartilly, "he set me the 
example." 

" What dost thou mean % " 

" He did the same, he made his will before I did." 

" And what was he going to leave thee— his debts ? " 

"His fortune. Nearly four millions." 

" Four millions ! Had he stolen them ? " 

" They came to him from one of his relations who had 
recently died in Russia." 

"A man who had been a captain in the Royal Guard of 
Charles X. ? " 

" Yes, how did you know that ? " 

" At the time of thy marriage he spoke of this inheritance, 
which he declared must come to him, but I did not believe a 
word of it. Since then I made enquiries. The officer he 
refers to, has been dead eighteen months, and he died insol- 
vent. Sartilly therefore has told thee an impudent lie, and 
I fancy that now thou perceivest the design of this base 
falsehood. It was a trap into which he knew that thou 
would'st fall, that thou wouldst believe in a will made in thy 
favour, and that thou would'st not be behind him in genero- 
sity. Is it not clear to thee now r < " 

Valentine bent down her head, but did not reply. 

" He knew thee well, he could fathom thy very soul. 
After having bewitched thee, he left thee alone long enough 
to make thy will, and afterwards he thought that thou 
woulds't drink the poison. Remember what thy former maid 
has just told us Canst thou not see, this miscreant, hoping to 
find thee dead/and precipitating himself into thy chamber after 
having broken in thy door, hurrying to thy bed, upon which 
he hoped to find thy corpse, and then seizing on the envelope 
in which thou hadst placed the will that thou hadst made ? " 

"Enough, father, enough," cried the Countess, hiding 
her face in her hands. 

" Ah ! now thou blushest at being the wife of such a 
villain. Wilt thou not now break with him ? " 



The Plan of Defence 203 

" I have told you that I would never see him again." 
" Thou hast said so, but I put no faith in thy words. How 
can'st thou think that I can believe thee, when thou wilt not 
sue for a divorce. Thou believest that thou hatest him 
because thou despisest him, but in thy inmost heart thou 
hast hopes of his repenting, and thou wouldst leave him 
the time to do so. Thy sad experience has taught thee no 
lesson, and on the day upon which he takes it into his head 
to play the part of a tender and affectionate husband, thou 
wilt forgive him." 

" No, no, I swear to you never." 

" The oath of a woman who loves, is of as much value as 
the pledge of a drunkard. Thou weepest, thou findest that I 
am too harsh. Yes, I am so, cruel to be kind, like the knife 
of the surgeon. "When I tear from thy heart that fatal 
passion which is consuming thy life, thou wilt thank me for 
having cured thee, though my mode of action may seem cruel 
to thee now." 

" I am cured, father, I tell you so again. He has filled my 
cup to overflowing. Scorn has come, you -know it, and in- 
difference will follow. I do not say hatred, for I have loved 
him too well to wish him harm." 

" Good, now we are coming to something ; but until thou 
art under the protection of the law, thou wilt be at the 
mercy of this man, and until thou hast told him of the revo- 
cation of thy will, thou wilt remain under the threat of some 
fresh attempt against thy life. Wilt thou revoke thy will, 
mad woman, and wilt thou consent to sue for a divorce 1 " 
*' No, I have explained to you what I will do." 
" What an arrangement with a villain, with a gentleman 
who has lost all sense of honour, who respects nothing. Thou 
hast placed thy neck in a noose, and thou refusest to exit the 
cord. One of these days thy unworthy husband will come 
here armed with the full powers of the law, he will order 
thee to follow him, and thou wilt do so without a murmur." 
" No, I will not follow him, nor will he take me away by 
force, and when you have listened to me, you will allow that 
I am right in wishing to remain in the position in which I 
am. What shall I gain by driving into a corner an un- 
happy man who has lost the last feeling of honour. If I 
take my case into court he will plead, do not for a moment 
doubt it ; and to defend himself, he will not hesitate to blast 
my character. He will prove that I left him suddenly, in 
the middle of the night. He will assert that I had a lover, 
and he will find plenty of persons to believe it. There will 
be a terrible scandal." 

*' A scandal which will recoil upon himself," 



204 Fickle Heart 

" On me, more than on him. I have everything to lose, he 
nothing. He has drained the cup of degradation to the dregs." 

" Ah ! at last thou see'st him as he is," exclaimed Vacheron, 
delighted to hear his daughter speak in these terms of M . 
de Sartilly. 

" Yes, father, as he is, my last illusions have taken wing, 
and they will never return again. But it is for that very reason 
that I think he is capable of anything, and we should not 
exasperate him by reducing him to misery. How do you 
think he will live if we gain the suit that you propose to 
bring against him 1 " 

" It is a matter of perfect indifference to me." 

" He will then shrink at nothing to continue his spend- 
thrift existence, without which he could not live, and he will 
end by disgracing himself." 

'' All the worse for him." 

" And for me, who am his wife. A divorce can change 
nothing, for I cannot resign myself to see the name that 
I have borne dragged through mud and mire. I should kill 
myself." 

The old man trembled. He knew too well the character 
of his daughter, always ready to rush to extremes, and he 
felt that this was no vain threat that she uttered ; but he was 
not the style of man to haul down his flag at once. " Then," 
said he bitterly, " to prevent this fine gentleman from harm- 
ing himself, we are to allow him to squander thine income, 
to wallow in his luxuries and his vices ; and we shall 
doubtless when he has run into fresh debt, settle for him, and 
go on paying again and again." 

" No, we must simply treat him as I ask you to do. Get 
a written promise from him to abstain from all claim to 
marital rights, on the condition that we permit him to enjoy 
the revenue of my dowry. Such a declaration signed by 
M. de Sartilly, and produced in court if he attempted to 
violate his promise, would have the greatest weight with the 
judges, when I should, as I certainly should do in such a case, 
sue for a divorce." 

" Thou consentest, then, to sue for one 1 " 

" Yes> if he fails in his promise, because then I shall have 
no other course open except to escape from him. But in that 
case only. Let us therefore first try the method that I have 
pointed out." 

" He will agree to it, of course he will agree to it, he will 
sign whatever thou desirest, and he will leave thee at home 
for a time ; and then one fine day he will tell thee that he is 
in debt again for some gigantic sum, and that if I do not aid 
him, he will be compelled to force thee to return to him," 



A Doubtful Signature 205 

" That will be arranged for in the agreement. We will 
begin by requiring him to furnish us with an exact list of his 
debts, and when he has done so, you will pay them " 

'• Not while I live," cried the old man. " Dost thou wish to 
ruin me, and thyself too?" 

" You will pay them, stipulating it is for the last time, and 
you will make him give you a receipt framed in such terms 
that he dare not re-commence again." 

" On my honour, I believe that thou hast become mad. 
Make an agreement with such a man, give him up your 
income, and money in addition ! But it is the height of 
extravagance that thou art proposing to me." 

" It is but a precaution against the misfortunes that I see 
in the future, and if you consent to do what I ask, I swear to 
you, by the memory of my mother, that should this last 
attempt fail, I will enter a suit against my husband, and 
plead for a divorce." 

" And in the meantime wilt thou revoke thy will ? " 

" Yes, and I will execute such a one as you consider best; 
but in it you must permit me to leave to the Count de 
Sartilly not my fortune, but sufficient to give him his daily 
bread, for if he survives me he will have nothing, and I do 
not wish him to starve, nor tlo you wish it either." 

Vacheron made a gesture which signified, " I should not 
care ;" and he was about to make further opposition, for his 
daughter's arguments had not convinced him, when his old 
servant came in and said in a mysterious manner : " Sir, 
there is a man below, who wants to see you on a most 
important matter. I told him that you were engaged with 
Madame de Sartilly, and he answered that it did not 
signify, indeed that perhaps it was all the better." 

" What is his name 1 " 

" I asked him, but he said there was no use in his giving 
it, as you did not know him." 

"Tell him to go to the devil then, I don't see people whom 
I do not know." 

" All right, sir. Oh ! by the way I forgot, he said that he 
came from the Count de Sartilly ! " 



CHAPTER XXIV 

A DOUBTFUL SIGNATURE 



At the name of Sartilly both father and daughter exchanged 
a look of surprise, but they felt that they could not in the 
presence of a servant express their opinion upon this strange 
and unexpected visit. " Well," said Vacheron after a pause, 



206 Fickle Heart 

turning to his old domestic, "go and tell him that I will be 
with him directly, and beg him to wait for a moment. 
Come here again when I ring." 

Then, as soon as he and his daughter were once more alone, 
he continued : " from the Count de Sartilly. I don't 
expect that his message is worth hearing. I have half a 
mind not to see him." 

" You would be wrong," returned Valentine, eagerly, " he 
may be the bearer of some proposals." 
" Unacceptable ones of course." 

" That is what we must know ; but above all do not let 
this man leave until we learn the business upon which he 
has come." 

" As if I did not know it beforehand. But he does 
not wish to give his -name ; I expect Sartilly has sent me 
some man of his own stamp, some broken-down swell, who 
will try to bamboozle me. I know that I shall get in a rage 
and kick him out, and thou wilt have learned nothing." 
"Make the attempt at any rate." 

" Just as thou wilt ; very well, I will go then, though I am 
convinced that it is utterly useless ; but, at any rate, we shall 
get rid of this suspicious character." 
" Why not see him here i " 
" What, in your presence 1 " 

" Certainly. I am as much interested in the matter as you 
are, since he insisted in coming in, even when he knew that 
I was here. Were I alone I should decline to see him, but 
you are with me, and I want you to hear what he has to say 
to me. You can answer him for me." 

" Dost thou promise to approve of my replies, and not to 
contradict me before the man ? " 
" I promise." 

" Then that is different, and I will give orders to admit 
him. After all it is as well to finish with him once and for 
all. When I have dismissed thy husband's representative, 
we will resume our conversation where we left off." 

With these words Vacheron rang, and ordered his servant 
to show in the stranger. Vacheron expected to see in the 
friend of his son-in-law, some well-dressed spendthrift, who 
was prepared to discuss Sartilly's interests, and to assume 
a high tone with his plebeian father-in-law, and in this case 
he was determined to treat him as he deserved, and accord- 
ingly he assumed the air of a creditor who is about to 
receive a recalcitrant debtor. He drew himself up in an 
aggressive manner, with his head in the air, his brows bent, 
and a glacial manner. 
Valentine did not assume the pose of an injured wife ; she 



A Doubtful Signature 207 

remained seated, outwardly calm, though her bosom was 
racked by varied emotions, for this interview, to which «her 
father had at her entreaties consented, might perhaps decide 
her future. 

The pretended envoy from the Count de Sartilly entered 
the room, with his hat in his hand, and a servile expression 
on his face. Decently dressed in black, with a well-shaven 
chin and large red whiskers, his bow and manner announced 
at once his status as a domestic servant of some class or 
other, and Valentine saw directly what sort of a man he 
was. Vacheron, too, though not over clear-sighted ; detected 
the man's position immediately, and at once relaxed the 
stiffness of his manner, and said, in a half-contemptuous 
tone of familiarity : " Oh ! so you come from my son-in-law, 
do you 1 Are you in his service 1 " 

" No, sir," replied the man, without appearing discon- 
certed ; " I am employed in the club of which M. de Sartilly 
is a member, and I have not been sent by him, though I come 
about a matter that closely concerns him." 

" A money matter, doubtless 1 " 

" Yes, sir, and a very important one, otherwise I should 
not have ventured to call on you." 

" Then my daughter, who is not interested in business 
matters, has no occasion to be present at our interview." 

" Excuse me, sir, but her ladyship is deeply interested in 
the matter which I have come to lay before you, so much 
interested indeed, that I could conclude the business with 
her alone, but knowing that she is staying with you, I 
thought that I ought " 

"Come to the point," interrupted M. Vacheron, "and be 
sharp about it. What is it all about ] " 

" This is it, sir. About two months ago M. de Sartilly had 
need of a large sum of money, of a very large sum, and he 
came to me for it." 

" If you lent it to him, you have been very foolish." 

" M. de Sartilly was recommended to me by one of his 
friends, the Viscount de Saint Senier, in whom I have the 
greatest confidence, and who induced me to make the 
advance." 

" You are, then, a professional money-lender ? " 

" No, sir, I am a servant of the club, as I had the honour 
to tell you ; but I have a small capital, and I try to place it 
out advantageously." 

" That means," remarked Vacheron, " that you get thirty 
per cent, for your money." 

" I do the best I can, sir ; you who have been in business 
know that money is a merchandise, the value of which varies 



208 Fickle Heart 

with the supply and the demand. The proof of this is that 
the rate of exchange of the Bank of France rises or falls 
according to the tightness or easiness of the market." 

" I think that money-lenders are all a set of rogues, and I 
do not want to listen to your theories on the subject of 
interest. You say that you have lent money to my son-in- 
law. How much ? " 

" Three hundred and fifty thousand francs," answered the 
card-room waiter, coolly. 

Had he adhered to the truth he should have said three 
hundred thousand only, for the odd fifty thousand repre- 
sented the ruinous rate of interest, but no one is obliged to 
criminate himself. 

" What, do you possess such a sum V exclaimed Vacheron, 
in amazement. 

" Yes, sir, and even a little more, for I have accommo- 
dated other members of the club also." 

" Well, you can say farewell to this lot, unless you like to 
go to the Viscount de Saint Senier, who advised you to lend 
it, and ask him for it." 

" His recommendation had certainly great weight ; but I 
should not have contented myself with that only, unless he 
had backed M. de Sartilly's bill." 

" He took care not to do that I expect, for he knew that 
his partner was insolvent." 

" Just so, and so I took my precautions, and I am going 
to tell you exactly the security that I asked for." 

" I don't want to know it. You do not for a moment sup- 
pose, I imagine, that I am going to pay a debt contracted 
hj M. de Sartilly, contracted without my authorisation, and 
even without my knowledge 1 " 

" I know perfectly well that you cannot be expected to 
meet all the engagements entered into by M. de Sartilly, 
and I hope that you will allow that I have not been in a 
hurry to speak to you of this. The sudden change that haa 
taken place in M. de Sartilly's domestic arrangements has 
decided me to do so." 

" Explain yourself 1 I don't understand you." 
" But it is most simple. Had it not been for recent events 
the security would have remained in my hands without a 
word being said about it, indeed it is still as good as ever, 

even though your daughter has left her husband " 

" I tell you again that I do not understand a word of all 
this chatter. What security are you talking of ? " 

" Of a bill for three hundred and fifty thousand francs, 
due the 15th of June, which was given to me by M. de Sar- 
tilly for value received, minus the interest and discount." 



A Doubtful Signature 209 

" A bill, drawn on whom ? " 

" On you, sir ; and it was arranged by your son-in-law 
that it should not be presented to you for acceptance until 
it fell due, and if I have come to you before it is " 

" On me ! " exclaimed Vacheron, pale with rage. " Has 
he dared to draw upon me ? He knew very well that I 
would not pay it, for I refused him the identical sum that 
you have been ass enough to lend him. So he tries to put 
pressure upon me, does he ? Well, you may do what you 
like with him, and you may, if you choose, sue him in a 
criminal court, for I assure you that you are the dupe of a 
swindler." 

The money-lender made no reply. He was watching Mme. 
de Sartilly, who had sunk back in her chair, and Vacheron, 
catching the direction of his eyes, saw that Valentine was on 
the point of losing consciousness. 

Vacheron hastened to his daughter's side, murmuring, 
" Forgive me, I went too far, I forgot that thou wert here. 
I promise thee that I will say nothing further before this 
man regarding thy husband's conduct. But I must know 
the rights of this matter, so allow me to inquire into it 
closely." 

" Do so," answered Valentine, recovering herself ; I, too, 
want to know all." 

" I wa3 wrong to fly into a passion," resumed Vacheron, 
addressing Augustus, " for I have nothing to do with M. de 
Sartilly's affairs, nor am I the judge of his conduct; but it is 
my duty to tell you that I will not meet this bill that you 
have discounted so recklessly." 

" Excuse me, sir, but I never expected you to take up a 
bill drawn by M. de Sartilly. I am not a child, and I know 
that he has nothing of his own, since his wife's property is 
settled on herself, and that if the bill is not met he will not 
be in a position to pay up." 

" And if not him, who will do so, pray ? " 

" He has endorsed it, as a matter of form, but the bill is 
drawn by the Countess de Sartilly." 

At this disclosure Vacheron almost fell backwards, whilst 
Valentine, overwhelmed with surprise, remained dumb, and 
seemed by her gestures to be protesting against this asser- 
tion. Her father did not know what to believe. '' Why, 
asked he, " before discounting the bill did you not consult 
my daughter 1 " 

" Because M. de Saint Senier said that such a proceeding 
would be injurious to his friend, and because I did not sup- 
pose that M. de Sartilly would commit a forgery." 

" A forgery ! " repeated Valentine, in the deepest anguish, 



210 Fickle Heart 

" Yes, madame, a forgery," said the card-room waiter ; " if 
the bill is not met I shall be compelled to apply for a war- 
rant against the guilty party, for in that case M. de Sartilly 
would have ruined me, and I would have my revenge on 
him." 

"And you would do right," exclaimed M. Vacheron, 
permitting himself to be carried away by an impulse of 
indignation, which he speedily regretted, "for forgery is 
the vilest of crimes." 

" The more so when it is committed by a gentleman in a 
high position, to the injury of a poor man like myself." 

" Fifty years ago they hung forgers in England, and they 
were foolish to alter the law." 

Valentine was a sad sight as she bent down her head and 
listened to her father's savage remarks, who did not look in 
her direction, and every instant her face grew paler and more 
melancholy. 

" Happily," continued Augustus, " I shall not be obliged 
to proceed to such extremities, for I am sure that the 
Countess signed the bill, which at first I began to doubt. 
You, of course, are not obliged to meet it, nor is it you, sir, 
that I shall proceed against in the Tribunal of Commerce. 
But I will have my money. The fortune of the Countess de 
Sartilly is perfectly free as it is settled on herself, it is to 
her then that I shall apply for payment, and I do not think 
that she will permit a scandalous trial to 20011 which she 
can so easily avoid." This was a plain^Pfaightforward 
declaration, and at once showed the ex-contractor the real 
position of affairs. There were two sides to the question, 
either the signature was a forgery, or else Valentine had had 
the weakness, or been forced by her unworthy husband to 
sign it. This was the point to clear up, and Vacheron did 
not hesitate for a moment longer. " Have you the bill with 
you 1 " asked he. 

" Certainly, sir," returned Augustus, courteously ; and as 
he spoke he drew it from a well-worn pocket-book, and 
handed it to the old man, who examined it with an expe- 
rienced eye. It was signed Valentine Vacheron, Countess 
de Sartilly, and bore the endorsement of Gontran de Sartilly. 
The two signatures did not seem to have been written by 
the same hand, but the old man was not at all sure of the 
authenticity of his daughter's, who wrote as she had been 
taught at school in the English fashion, and all English 
handwritings resemble each other. To put an end to his 
doubt he had only to question Valentine, and so holding the 
bill before her eyes, he asked her shortly, " Didst thou sign 
this?" 



A Doubtful Signature 211 

She lifted her eyes reddened with tears to her father's face, 
and in them he could read a pray.r not to persist in his 
question, but he was pitiless. 

" Is this thy signature V repeated he. 

" Yes, it is mine," answered she at length, with a violent 
effort. She expected an outburst of rage, and a volley of 
reproaches, but she was deceived. M. Vacheron was coarse 
from his want of education, but he had a heart, a nobler 
heart than many a titled gentleman who makes a great 
parade of his feelings of honour and does not pay his 
tradespeople. The usurer had heard Valentine's reply, and 
Vacheron would have spent all he possessed sooner than the 
fellow should be able to say that the daughter of a self-made 
man had not met her engagements. "That is sufficient," 
said he ; ''the bill falls due on the 15th of June, I see," 

" Yes, sir," returned Augustus ; " you have still fifty days 
to pay it in." 

" Will you permit me to take it up in advance ? " 

" Certainly ; I will even take something off the interest for 
the time it has to run ; that is to say, from the 15th of April 
to the 15th of June."' 

" Of course I expect you to do so ; at what rate have you 
calculated the interest, at twenty, forty, or fifty per cent. ?" 

" The rate matters very little. I am ready to hand over 
my bill to you for three hundred and twenty-five thousand 
francs, money down." 

" The real value given was three hundred thousand francs. 
The bill is dated the 15th of February, we are now at the 
24th of April, your money has therefore been advanced for 
two months and five days. Twenty-five thousand francs for 
that time "r^ery little, is it not '] " 

" I assure you, sir, that " 

" Don't assure me of anything, but let us conclude the 
matter. You will take a cheque, I suppose, on the Comptoir 
d'Escompte?" 

" One of your cheques, most certainly, sir." 

"Without another word Vacheron drew from his pocket a 
cheque-book which he a] ways carried about him, and sitting 
down at the table wrote an order for the enormous sum, 
and handed it to the money-lender. 

A gleam of delight passed over the man's vulgar coun- 
tenance, but Vacheron cut short his thanks by taking him by 
the collar and turning him out of the room, a proceeding to 
which the rogue offered no resistance, for he was over- joyed 
at the success of his mission. 

Scarcely had he left than the old man folding his arms 
turned to hia daughter, with the words, " And now for us 



212 Fickle Heart 

two. I have met this bill because I would not permit my 
daughter to be sued before the Tribunal of Commerce, on 
which I sat as a judge for three years. I have some regard 
for my name, I have, and I cannot for a moment believe that 
thou hast committed so shameful an action as to join with 
thy husband in an attempt to ruin thy father, or, at any rate, 
to compromise him. I could even have forgiven thee for 
having signed this bill hadst thou told me of it, even after thou 
hadst done so ; but to leave me in ignorance of it, to allow me 
to run the risk of its being presented at maturity, when I 
might have refused to take it up, shows more than folly ; it 
discloses a want of heart, and if thou lovest me no longer, if 
thy insane passion for thy husband has stifled all thy affection 
for me, thou at least owest me some respect." 

Valentine burst into tears, and her sobs prevented her 
from speaking. 

*' Thou weepest," said Yacheron, "and it is time that thou 
shouldest do so. Thou shouldest have shed tears on the day 
(Hi which thou signed, and have come to me to tell me of it. 
I would then have taken thy fine husband by the throat and 
forced him to give up his plunder. It is too late for that 
now, but thou canst explain to me how it was that that 
villain forced thee to act as his accomplice. Try to justify 
thyself ; but the scene is almost before mine eyes. The bill 
was signed upon the very day on which thou earnest to ask 
me for the three hundred thousand francs, which I refused. 
When thou toldest him this, he threatened thee, and perhaps 
ill-treated thee. Was it not so?" 

" He got into a violent passion," said the Countess in a 
low voice, " and told me that all was over between us, and 
that henceforth we were to live apart." 

"And to regain his love thou yielded. Of what stuff art 
thou made, to cringe and fawn for the caresses of this mighty 
nobleman, whom thou servest as a slave ? Canst thou not 
understand that by putting thy neck beneath his feet thou 
hast only tarned his contempt. He must have cast a spell upon 
thee. Hast thou not read in the papers of the experiments 
that have been tried at the Salpetriere on hysterical patients ? 
That man would place a dagger in thy hands and say to thee : 
Plunge this to-night into thy father's heart, and thou wouldst 
do it, even as the unhappy creatures in the hospital obey tlie 
dictates of their doctors. They have invented a word for it, 
they call it the suggestive process ! " 

Vacheron must have indeed have been in a state of ex- 
asperation to have gone to such lengths, and to have made 
use of scientific terms which were not familiar to him. He 
soon however saw that he had strayed from the question 



A Doubtful Signature 213 

which was not one of the disposition of his daughter. " Come," 
continued he, " answer me ; what has he done to thee ? What 
unworthy means did he adopt to obtain thy signature from 
thee ? " 

" None," sobbed Valentine. 

"What, none 1 thou didst not sign, I suppose, when thou 
wert asleep. Then thou didst sign of thine own free will 1 " 

" No," answered the Countess in a suppressed voice. 

" Dost thou mock me," cried Vacheron, " hast thou sworn 
to drive me to the end of my patience 1 " 

But as his daughter still obstinately insisted on remaining 
silent, he at last understood her true reason, and an attentive 
glance at her sad and wearied face taught him the truth in 
a moment. 

" The signature is not thine 1 " exclaimed he, grasping her 
by the arm, " thy husband has forged it 1 " 

" I cannot say," stammered Valentine, "but lean swear 
that it is not mine." 

" Why then didst thou say it was thine just now 1" 

" I could not deny it before that man." 

'' Thou couldst not ! say rather that thou wouldst not confess 
to him that the Count de Sartilly was a forger ? " 

"You are right, I would not do so." 

" And thou preferrest to let me pay three hundred and 
twenty-five thousand francs to prevent this villain being sent 
to penal servitude." 

" Yes," replied Valentine, firmly ; " and I am sure that you 
would have paid it, even had you known that my name had 
been forged." 

" Thou deceivest thyself," answered Vacheron, coldly, " and 
the proof is that I will to-day apply for a warrant against the 
scoundrel." 

" You will not do that, father ? " 

" Why not, pray ? " 

"Because, as I have already told you, if you do I will kill 
myself." 

" Kill thyself, because this man meets with the punishment 
that he deserves ?" exclaimed Vacheron, "thou must be per- 
fectly demented." 

" I am almost so," answered Valentine, with the calmness 
of despair, "but I swear to you, that if you apply for a 
warrant against M. de Sartilly, whom I despise as much as 
you do, you shall not find me alive by night-fall." 

" Unhappy girl, dost thou wish me to die of grief V 

"I wish to prevent you from acting in a hasty manner 
which you will regret later on. For in endeavouring to 
strike your son-in-law, you will only wound your daughter," 



214 Fickle Heart 

"Then thou assertest that I ought to hold my tongue. 
This rogue has robbed me, plundered me, swindled me. I 
shall have paid an enormous sum for him, and he will laugh 
at me as he has laughed at thee, and all will be over until 
he begins again." 

" No, father, all will not be over, he will know that you 
have spared him, he will know where you could have sent 
him had you not pitied him " 

" It is thou, that I shall pity, if I decide to spare him. But 
he will not be grateful, and he will look upon my weakness 
as an encouragement to swindle me again, and will by 
degrees get all that I possess out of me." 

'' He will not dare to do so, for have you not in your hafods 
the proof of his crime, and it rests with you to use it for his 
ruin." 

" Yes, I have the bill with the forged signature certainly 
and I have but to show it — but what good would that be. 
Thou art quite capable of asserting that thou hast signed it, 
and I do not see how I can benefit by keeping it in my 
pocket-book." 

" You will gain this, that you can impose conditions on 
him to which he must submit." 

" What conditions ? " asked Vacheron, impatiently. 

" Have you forgotten that before this man came in you 
were urging me to sue for a divorce ? " 

" No, no more than I have forgotten that thou utterly 
refusest to do so, for thou desired to remain the wife of a 
cowardly rogue." 

" I simply desired to avoid a scandal which would injure 
both of us, but I more than ever wish to regain my 
liberty. You are now in a position to force M. de Sartilly 
to comply with our conditions." 

" There thou goest again with thy conditions, but, mad 
woman that thou art ! dost thou not see that he will sign all 
thou askest : signatures are quite in his line, he has forged 
thine and he will not stop there, and thou wilt remain at his 
mercy as thou hast ever been." 

" Not so, he will be at ours." 

" No, I have a weapon against him, but it is a useless one, 
since thou threatened to kill thyself if I make use of it, and 
thou knowest that I dare not do so." 

" Listen, father, do you put faith in my oath ? " 

" I do, and that is why I have yielded. I love thee too 
much to risk losing thee." 

" Then you can believe the one I am going to make. I 
swear to you by the memory of my dead mother, by my 
honour, by the loye that J haye for you, never to intervene 



A Doubtful Signature 215 

again between you and M. de Sartilly if he fails in his new 
engagements." 

" What engagements ? To leave thee free, not to force thee 
to live with him again — a fine step in advance that, and in 
exchange thou wilt leave him to enjoy all thy fortune ? He 
will be quite satisfied with that, I am sure." 

" I shall even require more than that." 

" What is it ? » 

" That he shall leave France for ever." 

"He will promise, he will go away, and he will come 
back." 

" Should he do so, you shall deliver him up to justice, and 
I will be the first to ask you to denounce his crime, and you 
can let him know that I will never plead for him again, if he 
breaks his promise this time." 

"There is more reason in this proposition than in thy 
former one. For it is certain that if the Count de Sartilly 
goes to the other end of the world I shall be freed from all 
immediate fear for thee ; but people come back even from 
there ; only it is a matter of time. But he will never consent 
to leave. Thou hast told me thyself that he cannot do 
without his Parisian life, and upon what could he live out 
there ? " 

" On my income, as he does here. He shall receive an 
annual stipend equal to the dividends on my dowry, an 
income which he shall draw as long as he is abroad, but 
which shall cease the moment that he again sets foot in 
France. This agreement shall be drawn up, and you shall 
tell him verbally that you hold the proof of his crime, which 
you will make use of on the first infraction of the agree- 
ment." 

" Three hundred thousand francs a year to get rid of a 
villain that ought to be transported to Noumea." 

" Has he not always had it, and yet tortured me," said 
Valentine, bitterly. " I shall be much better without it." 

" I would give double that sum to see thee happy," cried 
Vacheron, overcome by emotion, "and if I were sure that 
thou wouldst not regret this man who has robbed me of thy 
heart " 

" Never," answered the Countess, energetically. 

" I would fain believe it, but where wilt thou live ? I 
know that Sartilly cannot take away the house in the Avenue 
d'Eylau, but " 

" I would not for the world live in it again. There are 
too many sad recollections connected with it. You shall sell 
it, and I will live with you." 

"Sell it, ah, I don't know how that would do, real pro- 



216 Fickle Heart 

perty in settlement — the absence of the husband — but we 
will think of that later on ; thou shalt let it, or not let it, as 
thou pleasest. What does anything signify so long as thou 
dost not quit me again. Still I believe that thy situation 
will be a more painful one than if thou wert divorced, as 
thou mightest easily be now, for no Court would refuse to 
grant a divorce to a forger's wife, then thou mightest marry 
again. At thy age it is hard to live as a widow, when thou 
art not one. But if thou hast the courage to live like 
that ? " 

" I am steadily resolved to do so," answered the Countess, 
" unless, indeed, M. de Sartilly, by breaking the agreement 
forces me to seek the aid of the Court." 

" If thou dost so, I hope that thou wilt marry Henri 
Trevieres, but that is looking too far ahead. We must go to 
work at once. Thou hast ended by convincing me no sacri- 
fice of money is too great to free thee from thy husband." 

" There will be another before his departure." 

" The deuce, it seems however, that we have paid some- 
thing already, we have paid that bill, and " 

" It is too much, a great deal too much, but so that it may 
not be money wasted, we must be prepared to do more. I 
believe that he has other debts, and he will put them for- 
ward as a pretext against his leaving. He will say that he 
cannot deal with my settlement, and that not wishing to 
leave any creditors behind him he is unable to leave Paris, 
and he will remain there. G ive him a sum down to settle his 
affairs." 

" Not an unlimited sum though," said Vacheron, i£ why he 
would drain me dry. I have already paid three hundred 
and twenty-five thousand francs, let us say two hundred 
thousand more, that will be over half a million. I can't and 
won't go beyond that." 

" I think that two hundred thousand will be enough." 

" That is lucky," replied Vacheron with an uncomfortable 
smile, " and now how are we to commence the negotiation. A 
shameful negotiation in every sense of the word. I can't carry 
it out ; if I met the man I think that I should strangle him." 

" You can write to him." 

" In what terms ? " 

" Shall I dictate the letter to you 1 1 have it all in my head." 

Vacheron had not expected to find his daughter possessed 
of so much firmness, evidently she was anxious to put an end 
to all relations between her husband and herself, and 
this looked well for the future. 

" Very well, I am willing," and sitting down at the table 
he prepared to write, 



A Doubtful Signature 217 

" Remember," said Valentine, ' ' if you have any fault to 
find with what I say, stop me at once." And she began as 
follows : — 

" Sir, — A bill has just been presented to me for three hun- 
dred and fifty thousand francs, to which you had forged your 
wife's name. I paid it in her presence, and though I knew that 
it was a forgery, I allowed the person who brought it to think 
that all was regular. Believe me that I have not acted thus 
out of any feeling of kindness to you. I know all that you 
have done, and all that your wife has suffered through you. 
I know even what took place in your house on the night when 
she sought refuge in mine — ah, do you understand me 1 I 
could, therefore, easily bring you before the Criminal Court 
as a forger at the very least. I do not do this, to avoid dis- 
honouring publicly the name that your wife bears, but I shall 
yet do so, if you do not at once submit to the conditions that 
1 propose to you, or if after having agreed to them you do 
not carry them out. You must quit France and never return 
to it. Do not object. Your exile shall be made pleasant to 
you. Whilst abroad you shall continue to draw the 
income derivable from your wife's settlement, and if you 
require money to settle your affairs before leaving, I will 
place at your disposal a sum of two hundred thousand francs, 
which will be handed to you when you have signed the 
agreement, which I shall require to be executed to-morrow, if 
you are prepared to accept it. But it is absolutely necessary 
that this agreement should be clear and distinct, and contain 
a formal promise to leave the country for ever. You must 
leave also immediately. I grant you a week, not a day 
longer. On these terms, my daughter will refrain from 
suing for a divorce which, as you are aware, she could obtain 
without difficulty, and which would take away from you the 
power of enjoying the smallest portion of her revenue. Do 
not forget that on your refusal, or on the smallest infraction 
of the agreement, I will hand you over to the criminal 
authorities. I shall not write again, and shall expect your 
answer to-morrow. ; ' 

" Capital," exclaimed Vacheron, " is that all 1 " 

" Sign it, and I will add a postscript," and, taking up the 
pen, Valentine added, " I approve of this letter, and I swear 
that I will join heart and soul with my father in handing 
you over to justice, if you do not leave France, or if you 
ever return to it." 

Vacheron clasped his daughter in a fond embrace. 

" Who will take this letter, and who will bring back the 
reply? It is a delicate mission, which cannot be confided to 
anyone, It roust be delivered to him to-day, for I have 



218 Fickle Heart 

insisted on an immediate reply,.and all must be concluded by 
to-morrow ; for look you, my girl, if there is any delay, I may 
perhaps change my mind, for it is hard to lose two hun- 
dred thousand francs after having already made so great a 
sacrifice." 

" Do you regret them, when you know that they will save 
me ? " asked Valentine, holding out her hand to her father, 
who almost crushed her slender fingers in his grasp. 

" Oh, no ! and I never yet tasted the pleasure of being 
rich, richer than you can imagine. For the last ten years I 
have made nothing but good investments, and my money has 
almost doubled itself. What use are my millions to me, but to 
spend, so, as to save thee from trouble, and unhappiness 1 
They are all thine, make use of them as thou wilt. When I 
think that if I were a poor devil I should have been unable to 
have defended thee against this wretch, but then hadst thou 
been poor, he would not have married thee. As he spoke, 
Vacheron cried like a child. His heart was tilled with joy, 
the joy of having recovered his daughter again, and the 
knowledge that she would ever remain with him ; for he now 
began to believe that she was cured of her insensate passion 
for her abominable husband, from whose clutches he had 
rescued her." 

" But," continued he, wiping his eyes, " I am losing my 
time in congratulating myself, when I ought to be acting ; so 
let us return to the last point. Who shall take the letter 1 
Dost thou know anyone to whom we could entrust it 1 " 

" Yes, father, to Lisa." 

" Thy old maid ? " 

" I am certain of her fidelity, her discretion, and her intel- 
ligence, and I know that she will carry out the commission 
properly." 

"Thy husband has dismissed her, and may refuse to see her." 

"She will knowhowtopreveutthat. Francis will assist her." 

" What, another domestic 1 Thou countest too much on 
these servants." 

" I count upon Lisa's devotion to me, and upon her clever- 
ness. But of course I shall not tell her the contents of the 
letter, and she is quite incapable of opening it." 

"That I can believe, but thy husband will make her talk." 

" No, he will not even endeavour to do so ; and besides, 
should he question her, he will not get her to say much. She 
is wonderfully clear-headed, and catches a meaning almost 
before the words are spoken. She is here at hand. I will 
tell her what to do, and she will do it exactly. Besides we 
have no choice, and we must not lose any time, for I too may 
change my mind," 



A Doubtful Signature 219 

This half-threat made Vacheron agree at once, for he 
dreaded nothing so much as a renewal of his daughter's 
affection for Gontran. "Thou art right," answered he. 
" I will close the letter. "Where shall I address it to 1 " 

" To the house ; if M. de Sartilly is not at home, Lisa will 
find him, and she will not come back without getting a reply, 
even if she has to go to him at his club, where he is always 
to be found at five o'clock." 

Her father rang, and the old servant was told to send up 
Lisa, who almost immediately made her appearance. " You 
can do us a great service," said the Countess ; " here is a letter 
which must be taken to M. de Sartilly at once, you must go 
with it, and give it into no hands but his." 

" Madame can be easy on that subject." 

" M. de Sartilly will no doubt ask you, who sent you. 
You will answer that you come from my father, and you will 
wait until M. de Sartilly has given you a written reply, which 
you will bring back to me at once," continued the Countess, 
with a strong emphasis on the last word. 

"I understand ydur ladyship, perfectly." 

" I am sure you do. Here is the letter, take a cab to go 
quicker, and try and be back here in an hour." 

" I shall be here earlier I hope," returned the maid, as she 
left the room. 

This plain short conversation, completely satisfied 
Vacheron. Evidently Lisa was a woman of some tact and 
talent, another would have wanted to know too much, where- 
as Lisa went straight to work without a word, and he felt 
that he could trust her. Besides, the letter that he had sent 
would compromise no one but his son-in-law, even if it did 
not go to the right address. Nothing remained for him but 
to find the money after Sartilly had signed the agreement ; 
and this he was prepared to do, though his soul revolted at 
giving so much money to a man he hated. As for Valentine's 
former maid she was delighted at the idea of being useful to 
the Countess, for she knew that in serving her, she also 
served Mile, de Ganges, who wished for nothing so much as 
to release her friend from her villainous husband. 

Lisa without exactly knowing how things were going, had 
partially guessed at what had happened. She had seen 
Augustus in the ante-room, and had at once detected that he 
was some kind of a lackey, and had imagined that he 
had been sent to collect a debt due by the Count de Sartilly, 
and that M. Vacheron had written him a letter on his 
daughter's part telling him that she would never return to 
him again, 



CHAPTER XXV 

a villain's honour 

Instead of taking a cab, which might have been stopped at 
the gate of the house, Lisa started across the Park Monceau 
and reached the Avenue d'Eylau in a quarter of an hour, when 
she met Francis, who was lounging about outside, and who 
still retained his passion for the pretty waiting- woman. 
Lisa came up to him and in an easy manner, said, " I must 
see the Count at once." 

" Yes, my dear," answered the valet, trying to throw an 
amiable expression into his face. " But he is just going out ; 
you can see his cab waiting for him at the door. What do 
you want with him 1 " 

" That is nothing to you, my boy. I want to speak to him 
that is all, and I was afraid that the porter would not let me 
go through, for I suppose that he has had orders about me ; 
but, my dear Francis, if you will smuggle me through, I 
will not be ungrateful." 

"Yes, I know all about that ; since you have been with 
that young woman of the villa, you have been all promises, 
and no payments, I certainly never expected you to learn 
virtue there." 

" I will keep my promise this time, let me come in with 
you, and then the porter will say nothing." 

"And suppose the Count turns me off?" 

"I will rind you a better place ; it won't be difficult, for 
your master is hard hit under the wing, and won't be able to 
hold his own in Paris much longer." 

" I can easily believe that," muttered Francis, " but I want 
to stick to him as long as I can, and I run the chance of 
losing my place for the sake of your pretty face. However, 
since you promise to recompense me, come along." 

Lisa did not delay any longer, and escorted by the valet 
got safely past the Cerberus of the gate. Halfway to the 
house, Francis said, " And now, Miss Lisa, go on by yourself. 
When you have done with the Count, perhaps you will do me 
favour of accepting some bock, or a glass of chartreuse — I 
shall wait for you at the cafe over the way." 

Lisa parted from her lover and thought no more about him, 
When the Count perceived her, he frowned angrily, and 
instead of stepping into his cab, came up to her. " What are 



A Villain's Honour 221 

yoijj doing here?" asked he harshly, "I had forbidden you 
to come in." 

" I know that," returned the waiting-maid coolly, " but 1 
have brought you a letter." 

" From Mile. de.Ganges ? " asked the Count, eagerly; " Give 
it to me." 

" No, I do not come from her, this is from M. Vacheron." 

" Ah ! you are in his service now ? " asked the Count, 
with a suspicious glance. 

" Not at all, I was at his house by mere chance, and he 
asked me to give it to you, with orders to wait for an answer. 
Here it is." 

Gontran was much surprised at receiving a communication 
from his father-in-law, and hesitated for a moment, then he 
took the letter from her hands, opened it, and read it. He 
had expected to find some sort of a declaration of war, the 
announcement of an approaching suit in the Divorce Court, 
and his surprise was intense when he found that it contained 
proposals of peace, of a much more advantageous character 
than he had dared to hope for. There was however some 
gall mingled with his pleasure. The forgery had been dis- 
covered, and Vacheron threatened him with a criminal 
prosecution, and hinted that he was acquainted with some 
other crime, which the law punishes with death. This 
announcement might well cause Sartilly some uneasiness, 
but he soon made up his mind that neither his wife or his 
father-in-law would attempt to send him either to the 
scaffold, or to New Caledonia, so that he speedily set his mind 
at rest regarding that portion of it. It was decidedly his 
interest to accept the arrangement that was proposed, the 
more especially as it offered him ready money of which he 
had urgent need. Exile was a bitter pill to swallow, even at 
the price of an income of three hundred thousand francs, but 
lie had a week to decide in, and his financial position might 
change greatly in that time. " You were told to wait for an 
answer '( " asked he, of Lisa, who was observing him 
stealthily. 

" Yes, sir, a distinct order," replied she, boldly. 

Gontran tore a leaf out of his pocket-book, and handed it 
to her, after having scrawled upon it these words : " I accept ; 
1 will communicate with you to-morrow by twelve o'clock, it 
is an understood thing that it is to be cash down." 

"There," said he, handing it to Lisa. "Give that to 
M. Vacheron, he will understand it," and without giving 
Lisa the time to open her mouth, he sprang into his cab, and 
calling out to the coachman, " To the club," drove off, leaving 
the maid only half-satisfied with the result of her embassy. 



222 Fichle Heart 

M. de Sartilly had a motive in going at once to the cltb ; 
he doubted yet whether M. Vacheron had paid the bill, and 
he was surprised that the card-room waiter should have 
ventured to call upon him before the time for which it had 
to run had expired, and he desired to find out exactly how 
matters stood. As for any remorse, he had not a shadow of 
it. As for any regret, and promises of amendment for the 
future, and vows never to put himself in so shameful a 
position again, he never thought of such things. He was 
only pleased at having been extricated from a portion of his 
troubles as though by a miracle, and the only conclusion that 
he drew from this fortunate occurrence was that all would 
end well. From the life that he had led, Gontran de Sartilly 
had forced himself to believe that the world, and all its 
inhabitants, had only been created to pander to his passions, 
and interests, and that the man of strong will, who was 
not troubled with any scruples, was a sort of king on the 
face of the globe, the more especially with both birth, and 
honour. He trampled on what he called prejudice ; and to 
gratify one of his least caprices, he would have sacrificed 
twenty women like poor Valentine. He held certain ideas 
which he had imbibed from his earliest childhood, the ideas 
of an aristocrat who believes that he is free to do what he 
likes, except to endure an insult, or to lose the respect of his 
equals. Little cared he what a man like Vacheron thought 
of his honesty, as long as Vacheron kept his ideas to himself, 
and as iong as the society in which he lived considered 
Gontran, Count de Sartilly, as an irreproachable gentleman. 
He had taken advantage of his wife's weakness in a most 
unworthy manner, because he was certain that she would not 
complain, but it was not until he had been driven to the last 
extremity that he had agreed to the conditions imposed upon 
him by Oxwall, the bookmaker, who could by a word, have 
him warned off the course as a defaulter, and get him cut by 
the society in which he had been in the habit of moving. 

All that Gontran feared was to lose caste as the Indians 
term it, whilst the Chinese say to lose countenance ; and for 
this reason he regretted having entered into a turf swindle, 
now that he would soon be in a position to pay his creditors, 
Oxwall included, without drugging the horse . 

As he read the letter of his good old father-in-law he 
already sought for some means to break off his degrading 
connection with the bookmaker without compromising him- 
self too much. This however was not an easy matter, for 
Oxwall might revenge himself by relating the history from 
beginning to end. His first business then was to ascertain 
whether the three hundred thousand francs had really passed 



A Villain's Honour 223 

from his father-in-law's bankers into the hands of the 
usurious waiter. On arriving at the club he came across 
M. de Saint Senier,who was showing George Cezambre over 
it, after having introduced him to several of the members. 
Gontran bowed coldly to the young Creole, who seized the 
opportunity to take leave of his proposer, whom he had only 
allowed to patronise him at the express wish of Diana de 
Ganges. 

Gontran left alone with Saint Senier, noticed that his 
friend's manner was different from what it usually was, he 
smiled, he rubbed his hands, and yet he seemed a little 
embarrassed. " Well," said Gontran, " what is the matter 
with you, " do you already regret having brought here this 
hne-colonial bird who pleases the ladies so much." 

" On the contrary I am delighted, he does not dislike 
baccarat, and will be an excellent recruit for the table, which 
is beginning to languish a little ; but I have something on my 
mind, something that I hardly dare tell you- " 

" Dare everything, my dear fellow, and go on." 

" Well then here it is; just imagine that animal, Augustus, 
in spite of all that I could say to him, persisted in going 
to your father-in-law's, and showing him the bill signed by 
Madame de Sartilly six weeks before it fell due. It is really 
too bad of him ! " 

" He wished no doubt to know if I had forged my wife's 
name." 

" No, I do not think that that was his reason, he was only 
afraid that M. Vacheron would tell him that he did not 
intend to honour his daughter's signature." 

" Well, what happened ? " 

"An extraordinary thing. M. Vacheron paid upon the 
spot without any difficulty." 

"He is a good father," answered Gontran coldly, "but 
I will speak pretty plainly to master Augustus, for I cannot 
permit a man of his class to doubt my word. He had 
promised to keep over the bill until the 25th of June, and I 
told him that I would retire it myself before that date." 

" Never mind, you must forgive him, he has not done much 
harm after all, and you can make better use of your money. 
It appears that Mme. de Sartilly was with her father, 
and that M. Vacheron did not fly into a passion with her. 
Everything went off as pleasantly as possible." 

" I should have been much astonished had it not done so." 

" Yes, of course you know M. Vacheron better than I do, 
but I confess that I was very uneasy, not of course, on the 
authenticity of the signature, but as regards what line of 
conduct your father-in-law would adopt. He must be awfully 



224 McJcle Heart 

wealthy, for a man does not often pay a sum like that 
■without a gasp, and to take it up at once, was wonderful." 

" Well, we need say no more about that, you have other 
matters to talk of to me." 

' ; Yes, I want to ask you why our horse has gone back in 
the betting 1 " 

" That is the first news I have heard of it. Yesterday at 
the horse show, Oxwall said that he would be at four, or 
perhaps five to one, on." 

" Oxwall is not always right in his prognostications. To- 
day, one very well up in such matters told me that he would 
soon be at evens, and Robert Milton is of the same opinion ; 
he has put it in his paper, and all look on him as an authority. 
Either he, or Oxwall must be wrong." 

" T don't care to enter into the question, but I am more 
than ever determined to back Snowflake ; to what do you 
attribute his going back in the betting ? " 

"There are rumours flying about. ' ; 

" What reports do you mean [ Do they say the horse is 
sick 1 " 

" i'liey don't say anything definite, but it is understood 
that he will be beaten, and perhaps they will even insinuate 
that his owners will not run him to win. I will not listen to 
such reports, and I disdain them when they come to my 
ears. But the deduction that I draw from them is, that we 
must hold out selves on our guard against any possible 
attempt at fraud on the part of the boys, or the jockey, and 
avoid giving the slightest handle to calumny. At this 
instant I wouldn't lay a hundred francs against our horse, 
even if I were certain that it would bring me in a million. 
A gentleman ought not even to be suspected." 

" And we are both of us gentlemen. I will undertake to 
stop all these reports by openly backing Snowflake for a 
heavy sum, and I will do the same on Sunday at Longchamps. " 

" My dear fellow, I only told you of this to give you 
information as to what was going on, and 1 firmly believe 
that the day after to-morrow we shall make a really good 
tiling of it. But now permit me to leave you, for 1 promised 
my wife to take her to dine at a restaurant. Don't look 
astonished, it is merely the carrying out of the plan that I 
told you of some time back. We had rather a stormy scene 
at the horse show, and I had to use whip, and spur ; to-day 
my wife is as supple as a kid glove, and now is the time to 
give her her head a little." With this last remark, Saint 
Senier went off laughing at his companion, and Gontran was 
not sorry to get rid of him, for he had to come to an 
immediate decision as to his course of action. 



A Villain's Honour 225 

Since he had received his father-in-law's letter, he had 
looked at his position from a new point. The unexpected 
change of fortune, had opened a new field to him. He had 
made up his mind to execute the agreement, even if he only 
carried out a portion of it, and he had no doubt but that he 
would secure the two hundred thousand francs the next 
morning from M. Vacheron. 

Once in possession of such a sum there was nothing to 
prevent his at once paying to Oxwall the sum of four 
thousand louis which he owed him, and to free himself from 
the dangerous agreement which he had been driven to accept 
by stern necessity, or he might even say, by the fear of total 
ruin. What good would it do him to risk his whole 
reputation, his honour, and his social existence, by entering 
into a fraud with a bookmaker, who before going on to the 
course would have ceased to be his creditor? The risk besides, 
was much greater now that sinister rumours had been put in 
circulation in sporting circles, and if Saint Senier's reports 
were correct, he might even make more money by backing 
his horse, than by laying against it. If he acted straight- 
forwardly he would gain largely, though he might not realise 
so heavy an amount as he would by the illegal arrangement 
to which he had given his adhesion. He had nothing to do 
but to back his horse for a larger sum, to watch over it so 
that no mere stableman might do the thing that he, the 
Count de Sartilly, had promised to carry out, and to warn 
Oxwall of his changed views of the matter, for he could not 
allow him to rush blindly to destruction without the dread of 
terrible reprisals. But how could he warn him ? He did not 
wish to visit the bookmaker in his own house, nor did he like 
to ask him to meet him anywhere, lest they might be seen by 
persons who were acquainted with both of them, and who 
might suspect that they had met together to plot some racing 
fraud. Much less, could he explain his intentions in a letter, 
which Oxwall might at some future time use against him . 
After much deliberation he decided to send him a note to 
this effect : " On Sunday, at Longchamps, before the first race, 
I will pay you the four thousand louis I owe you ; I wish you 
good luck." " He will understand that," thought he, " and I 
defy him to do me any harm with those two lines, and now 
the affair is off my shoulders." 

Sartilly did not think that crimes, even if they are only 
planned, and not executed, always bring about 1 heir own 
punishment. 



CHAPTEE XXVI 

MALVINA MARTINGALE 

Bill Oxwall was certainly not an honest man, since he 

had endeavoured to induce the Count de Sartilly to join 

•with him in a scandalous turf fraud ; but if he was not 

honest, he had all the outward appearance of being so, and 

lived the most regular life in the world. The rooms which he 

occupied in the Avenue de Neuilly, would have suited a rich 

citizen, and he was much looked up to by all his neighbours. 

His character on the turf was high, for he had never failed in 

meeting his engagements. His history, like that of many 

others in similar positions, was a curious one. The seventh 

son of a Yorkshire farmer, who could hardly afford to give 

him any education, he had taken his flight from home at an 

early age, and had come to London to seek his fortune, where 

he had tried several different kinds of respectable work. 

But he had no taste for sedentary occupation, and from his 

birth he had always been passionately fond of sport of all 

kinds, especially of raciDg. He had soon found his way into 

the society of betting men, with whom London swarms, and 

he commenced speculating on the turf with the small sum 

that he could save out of his salary. His first attempt had 

succeeded, and in the following year he had got on still 

better, and one Derby had given him the means to set up as 

a regular bookmaker. After ten years of mingled good and 

bad luck on the racecourses of England, he could have 

retired with a comfortable income which he had gained by 

good fortune and skill, without having too heavy a load on 

his conscience ; but Oxwall was a born adventurer. 

Gambling and betting were his second nature, and for all the 

wealth in the world he would not have relinquished the 

excitement of the ring. He had taken his business over to 

France, and with his large capital, and reputation for honesty, 

he held a high place in the ranks of Parisian bookmakers. 

Whenever the betting was heavy at Longchamps, at Chantilly, 

and at Auteuil, he had held his own. Oxwall had all the 

good qualities, as well as the bad ones, of a bookmaker. 

This man, who outside his profession would not have wronged 

anyone of a half-penny, and who in the course of business 

paid up with the most scrupulous honesty, had rather low 

notions as to the means that it was legitimate to employ to 



Malvina Martingale 227 

arrive at his ends. Bribing a jockey, or drugging a horse, he 
simply called getting the pull. He therefore did not feel the 
slightest remorse in having suggested a dishonourable course 
to Gontran, and his only fear was that his accomplice might 
change his mind ; but he was well acquainted with the 
desperate position of the Count, and he did not doubt his 
carrying out the project as settled between them, as there 
were no other means for him to avoid utter ruin. He had 
ouly forty-eight hours longer to wait, since the verbal 
arrangement had been completed at the horse show, and the 
Produce Stakes were to be run for on the next day but one. 
But there is many a slip between the cup, and the lip, and 
misfortune always finds some hole through which to effect 
an entrance, and on Saturday morning Oxwall was disagree- 
ably surprised by receiving Goutran's laconic note. He 
even flew into a violent passion as he perused it. " Oh, the 
rogue, the rascal, the blackguard, the moucher," exclaimed he, 
mixing up French and English slang terms of abuse in his 
anger ; " he is going to round on me, and wants to ruin 
me, but he shall pay me for this trick. I will drag 
him through mud and mire. Everyone shall know what 
a swindling cheat he is ; I will repeat it in all places, 
and will get him turned out of his club." Worthy Mr. 
Oxwall seemed to forget that if Gontran had not kept 
his word it was for the express purpose of not running any 
such risk as that with which he threatened him, and that he 
ought not to blame him for acting on the square. But he 
was not an Englishman, and a Yorkshireman, for nothing, 
and he soon resumed his customary coolness. " After all," 
thought he, " I shall get my eighty thousand francs, which 
he owes me, and which he promised to pay me before the 
first race. Where, I wonder, can he have stolen such a sum 
from, when yesterday he hadn't a rap. Perhaps he has won 
at cards at his club. But no, then he would have kept the 
money to have betted with. He must have again made it up 
with his wife, and got his father-in-law to shell out once more, 
and if he had not got a good haul he would not have been so 
cheeky about paying up. His note is clear enough ; it means, 
' You can rely on my money, but on nothing else.' Lucky for 
me that I know French well, or I might have come to grief 
over it. If this cur of a fine nobleman had not left me in the 
lurch, I might have made a million, and now at the least I 
shall lose a hundred thousand francs, even allowing for the 
eighty thousand that he will pay me, and perhaps he won't 
even do that, for I wouldn't believe him on his oath. I am 
in a nice hole, indeed." In great anger, Oxwall walked up 
and down the room, the windows of which looked upon the 



228 Fickle Heart 

Avenue de Neuilly ; all of a sudden he stopped short, like 
a man in whose head a sudden idea has been born, and he 
exclaimed : " No, I will not be done. I will get out of it 
somehow, and I will ruin him into the bargain. He doesn't 
wish Snowflake to lose, but by Jove, he shall ! Mowbridge 
is to ride him, and I know the fellow from top to toe. He is 
a first-class rider, but if scruples counted in the weighing, 
they ought to give him ten pounds, for he hasn't an ounce of 
them. Mowbridge is a thorough bad lot, a drunkard, a hunter 
after the girls, and a spendthrift, always hard up. Lord 
Winter was obliged to discharge him once, and he only took 
him back because there is not another one on the turf that 
can ride like him. For five hundred pounds he would sell 
his father, especially when he has dropped his money over 
cards, and he nearly always does so. He is the very man 
for me. The question is where to find him, and to find 
him at once. I know that he is in Paris, but deuce take me 
if I know where he lodges. I might meet him at the Madrid, 
at Borne's stables, as the horse is there, but I will take care 
not to show my nose in that place. Everybody knows me 
there, stablemen, waiters, and all, and if Sartilly heard of it, 
he would certainly have his suspicions that I was going to 
try it on with his jockey. But I must get hold of Mow- 
bridge — how shall I manage it? If I onlyknewwhere he went 
to feed ; but then the fellow has no regular habits, he dines 
sometimes here, and sometimes there ; not far from here, in 
the Route de la Revolte, there is a tavern much frequented 
by jockeys, but Mowbridge does not chum with the others, 
besides, a sporting tavern is a bad place to talk over a shady 
affair. Everybody has his eyes wide open, and would easily 
guess that I don't come there to drink stout or porter. I 
must find out some other spot in which to meet my man." 

This prolonged monologue did not hinder Oxwall from con- 
tinuing to walk up and down his room ; but at length he 
stopped opposite the window, as if he thought the fresh air 
might give him an idea, and inspire him with some novel 
means to parry the blow that had been dealt him by the 
Count. But no fresh idea came, and his restless mind could 
only grasp all the difficulties of his position. "Suppose 
Mowbridge declines," thought he ; "I might just hit on the 
time when he was flush of money. He betted pretty freely 
last Sunday, and I think he pulled off his money. It is 
true that coin slips easily through his fingers. Then he 
knows perfectly well what he risks. To be sent to the right 
about at once, and forbidden to ride again in England or 
France, unless he is clever enough to prevent the judges or 
any one else seeing anything during the raGe. In any ease 



Malvina Martingale 229 

he would ask for a good lump sum to sell his masters. That 
would be a matter to be talked over, and I don't much care 
to do it myself. Where can I find a go-between ? A woman 
would be the best, if she were only shrewd and clever. 
Mowbridge adores the girls, especially the French ones, and 
they can lead him just where they please. But where can I 
find one that I can safely charge with such a commission ? I 
know a dozen who pass their time with the jockies, but I 
haven't an idea where they roost, nor the time, to go and find 
out. Then these girls talk so ; but after all no one believes 
them, so that their chattering don't do much harm. Besides, 
I have no choice. Virtuous women do not pick their lovers 
out of the stableyard." Much annoyed at being unable to 
find a solution to his problem, Oxwall lighted a cigar, and 
leaning on the window-sill began to smoke. He had not 
been there five minutes when he saw coming along the street 
a lady very loudly dressed, who made signs to him with her 
sunshade. He did not at first recognise her, but she stopped 
just underneath his window, and looked up at him. 

" Why it is Malvina ! " exclaimed he. 

Oxwall's rooms were on the first floor, so it was easy for 
him to enter into conversation with the lady. 

" Good-day, Mr. Two-to-one-bar-one," said the lady. 

"How are you,my dear,and what are you doing up my way 1 ?" 

" I want a good tip." 

" Come up, and I will give you one," returned the book- 
maker, muttering to himself, " It is the devil that has sent 
her to me to-day." 

Malvina Martingale, the lady who was seeking for a tip, 
was a tall well-made girl, with brown hair and eyes, as im- 
pudent as they are made, and without an atom of morals. 
No one knew whether her name was really Martingale, or 
whether it was a soubriquet that she had adopted from her 
avowed fondness for the jockeys, and everything connected 
with racing. She had commenced by taking a high position 
in the army of the irregulars, and had had her house and 
carriage, but all of a sudden she had descended to the lower 
grades of sporting life. A sudden fancy for a young trainer 
had brought her down from the height that she had attained. 
She now lived amongst the subalterns of the turf, book- 
makers, jockeys, stud-grooms, and such members of the 
lower racing world, and did not seem at all to regret her 
former position. The case is not a novel one. Many women 
of the irregular division of Paris take their lovers from one 
certain class. There are those who adore the officers of the 
army, not counting the nurses which affect the private soldier. 
Others have a weakness for artists of every kind, painters, 



230 Fickle Heart 

sculptors, musicians, and actors. Women of the quas 
virtuous classes sometimes are the rivals of these ladies 
and some of them even descend so low as gymnasts and per- 
formers on the trapeze. There are some who love everything 
connected with horses, both those who ride them, and those 
who look after them. These, never miss a race, and 
endeavour to be present at the trials of the favourites in the 
forest of Chantilly. Sometimes they pick up a little money, 
but more often they lose all, and how they live is a mystery ; 
but it seems as if Providence supplied both them, and the 
little birds with the means of existence. Malvina, however, 
had saved something from the wreck of her former splendour, 
and had still a few useful friends ; she was always well- 
dressed, and was a thoroughly jolly girl. The larger book- 
makers, after a good day's work when all the backers had lost, 
would often take her to dinner at the Cafe du Cascade in 
the Bois de Boulogne, and on those days, their money slipped 
readily through their fingers. Even Oxwall the respectable, 
had taken her out once or twice, and they had always con- 
tinued the best of friends. So when she crossed the threshold 
of his door, he received her with open arms. " That was an 
excellent idea of yours to come up my way," said he after he 
had installed her in a comfortable arm-chair. " I never 
have any ideas but good ones," answered the young lady with 
a smile. " I went out this morning to wander about by the 
Madrid to see if I could catch a glimpse of any of the racing 
cracks, which are to run to-morrow for the Produce Stakes, 
but I had my walk for my pains, and I was putting my best 
le« foremost to come home, you know I live at the Port 
Maillot now ; when I saw you smoking a cigar at your 
window, and I said to myself, here is a stroke of luck, my 
old Two-to-one-bar-one will perhaps give me a breakfast." 

" Breakfast, dinner, anything you like." 

"Bravo ! you are not like that stingy hunks Disney, the 
trainer, whom I met this morning at Borne's, who did not even 
offer me a glass of Madeira, and therefore I love you for 
what you say, I do, on my word of honour." 

" You are a good girl, and I have always liked you and 
will do anything to please you." 

" Then give me the tip, the famous tip, that you promised 
me out of your window. It will come in awfully handy, for 
I am cleaned out, only nineteen francs, fifty centimes in my 
purse to last me until the end of the month, and not a sou in 
my strong box. Fortunately I have ' my uncle ' to fall 
back on." 

" You won't want to pop your jewellery, if you follow my 
advice." 



Malvina Martingale 231 

" Then your tip is a certainty. You are a love of a 
man. Does he run in the Produce Stakes 1" 

" It is not exactly a tip that I was referring to " 

" Eh ! What 1 Have you been making a fool of me 1 " 

" Not at all, you will make plenty of money all the same, 
much more than if you backed any favourite. For nothing 
is absolutely sure ; horses, you know as well as I do, are very 
deceiving." 

"They are like men then," returned Malvina, who was 
always ready with a repartee. 

" Come, be serious," said Oxwall, a little crossly, " otherwise 
I can do nothing with you." 

" Don't fret yourself, old man, but explain what you mean. 
I don't ask any better than to gain some money, for I am 
in a rare hole . Must I ask you again how I am to do it. I 
am not particular, but there are things that I wouldn't do 
for an empire." 

" Ah, an empire is vague, and as things go, one may be had 
cheap." 

" Not for a hundred louis then," returned the young lady, 
who hadn't had a hundred louis at once for a long time past. 

" For two hundred then ! " 

" It would depend what I was asked for in return." 

" But for five hundred ? " 

" Ah, now you are opening your rnouth. That is a pretty 
little sum, five hundred louis, that makes ten thousand francs, 
and ten thousand francs are not often found in a horse racing 
plate, much less in my purse." 

"Well, it only depends on yourself to have them to- 
morrow in good bank notes." 

" Is it your intention to offer them to me. That would be 
very nice of you, my little William, but no — you are not 
mean with women I know, but not so liberal as all that, and 
besides you seem to be thinking of something serious, and 
not of women, and such trifles." 

" There is a time for everything, my dear girl, but you 
have hit the right nail on the head, this is a business matter." 

" One that will bring me in ten thousand francs ? " 

"As sure as you are sitting there. It is I who will give 
them to you." 

" Then I am ready, for you are not the man to sell an old 
pal. What am I to do for them 1 " 

" Precious little, I have booked some foolish bets, and 
have given too much against one of the horses that is to run 
to-morrow in the Produce Stakes. If he wins, I am half 
ruined." 

" That would be awkward, you who are so kind to the girls, 



232 fickle Heart 

when ycm are in luck. I hope with all my heart that the 
backers will find themselves in the wrong box, and that you 
will have a grand day of it. But tell me how can I help 
you ?" 

" You can help me by preventing a confounded horse from 
winning when there is every chance of his doing so." 

" Ah, I begin to understand now ; you want him to fall 
sick between this and to-morrow, so that he could not come 
to the post ; but I can't help you there. Do you think that 
they let me into the stables 1 and besides, I don't like horse- 
poisoning, I am too fond of them to injure them." 

" And so am I ! a horse-poisoner ought to be hung, but 
there are other means ' 

" I cannot see one. Can you not make terms with the 
owner 1 there are plenty of them who are rogues enough to 
enter into a combination of the kind if they can get enough 
by it." 

" I can't do that with this one." 

" Ah, if he is on the straight, there is nothing to be done 
with him — what is his name 'I " 

" What good would it do you to know ? " 

" I should like to know the name of so rare a bird, I haven't 
much faith in the honour of these gentlemen. There are 
some I believe who are all right, and I shouldn't like to do 
them an ill-turn." 

" Do you believe in the honesty of the jockeys ? " 

" Not in that of all of them, but there are some worthy 
fellows amongst them." 

" You see a good deal of them." 

" Well, I don't know ; certainly I have some friends 
amongst them." 

" I know that, and for that reason I thought you might be 
useful to me." 

" Do you think that I shall find one who for the sake of 
my pretty face would risk being prevented from riding ? " 

" Your pretty face would go a long way, and the man who 
gives in to it, should have his slice of the cake." 

" The cake must be a big one then. These fellows don't 
work for nothing. They risk too much by playing tricks, and 
when their employer is open handed, it is their interest to 
serve him faithfully." 

" I will go as high as a thousand louis for the jockey, in 
addition to your five hundred." 

" Well then, we may come to terms, but I am a straight- 
forward girl, and will not touch a commission that I have not 
earned. Why do you want me to act as the go-between ! 
Why don't you speak to the jockey yourself 1 " 



Malvina Martingale 233 

" Because he might distrust me, whereas if you go to work 
the right way, you will hook him at once." 

" I am not so certain, I could give you the names of two 
or three who would take your money, but the others " 

" Do you know John Mowbridge 1 " 

" Do I know him ] Why for the last three months he has 
been dead spoons on me, tho' I would have nothing to say to 
him." 

" Then," exclaimed the bookmaker, " I have come to the 
right person. You hold Mowbridge in your hand, as he is in 
love with you. I know him too, and I tell you that he isn't 
the man to turn up his nose at money, especially when he's a 
bit hard up." 

"And that is what he is just now," said Malvina. " Last 
Sunday at Longchamps, he spent his money like a fool, and 
now he hasn't a rap." 

"Is it because he was hard up that you would have nothing 
to say to him ? " 

" No ; when he came over from England last, he had plenty 
of money, and he made me many offers, but I wouldn't." 

" Why not 1 " 

" Because I don't like him ; look here, I am not like so 
many of the others, I don't take up with the first comer 
because he has got a few louis in his pocket. This Mow- 
bridge is as ugly as a caterpillar, with his nose like a screw, 
and his parchment-coloured chops, and then though I haven't 
a weakness for your drum-major style of man, Mowbridge 
has too much of the Liliputian about him — why, I could put 
him in my pocket ; when he rides they always have to put 
extra leads into the saddle cloth to bring him up to the right 
weight." 

" Yes, that is all right, but he is a thoroughly bad lot." 

" Yes, whenever wickedness was being served out he got his 
share ; French and English vice, he has got both. As cunning 
as a monkey, always running after money, and flinging it out 
of window when he gets it." 

" You see that there is some good in him after all," said 
Oxwall, gravely. 

" I don't profess not to understand what you mean. I have 
only to lift up my little finger for him to spend all he has on 
me. But what would you have ? As a jockey I admire him 
much, but as a lover, even a temporary one, no, thank you." 

" Come, Malvina, you might strain a point for an old friend 
like me." 

" That is true — you never refused to lend me five louis when 
I wanted them, and you have sometimes tipped me a winner, 
but Mowbridge, no, that is too much." 



234 Fickle Heart 

" But you haven't quarrelled with him, I am sure, for I 
saw you talking on the course last Sunday ? " 

" Oh no, we are always very good friends, and he never 
meets me without asking me to breakfast, or dine with him 
according to what time it is." 

" If you accept, there is nothing to prevent your letting 
him know my offer at dessert. He won't refuse it. A 
thousand louis is a nice sum to handle, and I expect you will 
ge f % share of it." 

" Listen to me, my old Billy boy, I would do a great deal to 
give you a helping hand, and I feel quite capable of promising 
to let him be my lover, so long as I may change my mind 
afterwards." 

" As to that, do as you like ; all I want him to do is to 
arrange so that his horse may come in second or third." 

" But tell me now, the horse that he is to ride to-morrow 
is Snowflake, eh ? " said Malvina, who was well up in all the 
nominations for the races. 

" Precisely, I see that you know all about it." 

" But, my dear, Mowbridge will have the greatest diffi- 
culty to manage it, for Snowflake is a first-class horse." 

" There isn't a horse on this earth who will not be beaten 
if he is badly ridden. The result of the race will depend 
entirely upon Mowbridge." 

" I know that he doesn't like his employers much, and I 
hate both those swells. Saint Senier is a ridiculous ass ; he 
was at the horse show yesterday with his wife, who has a 
face like a piece of boiled beef, and who makes him — well, 
I won't say what. Sartilly is a handsome fellow, but his 
manners displease me. No true gentleman is rude to any 
woman, whoever she may be." 

" Well, you have an excellent opportunity to play them 
both a nice trick." 

" I shall be glad to do so, and so will Mowbridge, for I tell 
you again he doesn't love them." 

" Has he told you so ? " 

" Oh, very often ; he regrets his Englishman, who was very 
generous to him, and gave him twenty-five thousand francs 
as a present when he won a big race, which was good, 
was it not ? " 

" Well, but he hasn't yet ridden for these gentlemen, and 
does not know how they may behave." 

"No, but he has estimated them pretty correctly. Saint 
Senier is one of those mean hounds who would shave an egg ; 
and Sartilly is a basket with a hole in it ; he might want to 
be liberal but he hasn't got anything left in him." 

" Therefore Mowbridge would not lose much by quitting 



Malvina Martingale 235 

them, and I offer him such a fee for serving me, as he would 
never get out of them ; and I really think, my little Malvina, 
that you will have no trouble in deciding him." 

" Very well, I will try.''" 

" That is all right, and you will succeed I am sure." 

" I hope so, but you must understand that he won't do 
anything on an empty promise ; he knows very well that 
I haven't twenty-five thousand francs in my pocket, for you 
will go up to twenty-five, won't you ? so as not to be under 
the English lord's present. I may promise then as much as 
I like to Mowbridge, but he will want some sort of security. 
If I might only tell him that you will pay him, it will be all 
right, for he knows that your word is your bond, and that 
you have plenty of money." 

" Yes, but as I tell you, I don't want to appear in the 
matter, and that was why I came to you. I want to be behind 
the scenes. If I have to show myself, I will throw up the 
whole affair." 

" Then I fear it will fall through." 

" Not so, for there is a means to arrange it. I know that 
whatever you may be, you are as straight as a die in money 
matters, and I am ready to give you half the money down, 
and the rest after the race." 

" That is the way to talk ! if you will let me show him the 
notes, he will believe me." 

" Ten notes of a thousand francs each at once, and for 
you " 

"Oh, I want nothing in advance. I know you, and am 
quite easy about my money. You will pay me right enough 
after the race. That is the surest, for after all Snowllake 
may win in spite of Mowbridge, and I don't see how he 
can make him lose." 

" That is because you don't know all the dodges. All 
depends on him, and he can so arrange it that no one will be 
able to see anything. Believe me, my girl, if he minds what 
he is about he will not only gain my twenty-five thousand, 
but he will still keep in these gentlemen's employment, if he 
wants to." 

"He does not care much about it, but if he can't get 
anything better, the place is a good one. His profession is 
all that he has to live by, he has no other, and he doesn't 
want to be warned off every course, for he wants money for 
his vices. At any rate, I will make him the proposal ; if he 
accepts, he can get out of it as he likes ; at any rate I shan't 
mix myself up in that." 

" I don't ask you to do anything more. But you have not 
a moment to lose, for Snowflake runs to-morrow. I must 



236 Fickle Heart 

know his decision to-day, so that I may make my arrange- 
ments if Mowbridge should refuse." 

" Certainly. Well, you shall know." 

"Then you will undertake to find your man this morning?" 

" I am sure of it ; what time is it now 1 " 

" Past eleven o'clock." 

" Mowbridge would be now at the cafi, where he always 
breakfasts when he is in Paris, unless he's had a drop too 
much yesterday — but that is not likely — for I know his habits, 
and when he is going to ride, he is most abstemious." 

" Where is this cafe ? " 

" Nearly opposite the Northern Station." 

" Ah ! I know it : that is the one most frequented by the 
Chantilly trainers, who go to have a drink there when they get 
out of the train ; all the more reason that I should not show 
my nose there. They all know me, and if they saw me talking 
•with Mowbridge, they would guess that something was up." 

" Well, they won't take any notice of me, for they are 
accustomed to see me with the little chap, and they know 
that he is after me; therefore there will be nothing surprising 
in my breakfasting with him." 

" Then that will be all right. When you have once sat 
down, put the matter plainly to him, after having taken care 
that there is no one within earshot." 

" No fear of that — Mowbridge, always gets away into 
a corner, right at the end of the room ; besides, I'll keep my 
eyes open. It is settled, then, that your name is not to be 
mentioned, but I am sure that he will ask me who the 
proposal comes from." 

" Tell him that it comes from some one who has backed 
Cash-on-Delivery heavily." 

" Ah ! the outsider that is at sixty to one." 

" An outsider that will be placed, I can tell you, even if he 
does not come in first. But that is of no consequence ; Mow- 
bridge will believe whatever you like to tell him, if you let 
him get a glimpse of the flimseys," 

" I shall take care not to flash them about too much. The 
fellows who frequent that place have good eyes." 

" Well, only take care, and don't let go of them until you 
have come to a proper understanding." 

" He certainly won't give me a written one." 

" That would be useless, for if he didn't keep to it, I 
should not be likely to sue him on it. I am willing enough 
to take his word. If he breaks it I shall lose five hundred 
louis, but he will lose seven hundred and fifty, which I should 
have paid him to-morrow night. So that if anyone is to be 
a loser it will be he." 



Malvina Martingale 237 

" He will keep his word, if he gives it to me ; but I suppose 
that I shall have to keep faith with him, and he is so out- 
rageously ugly." 

" Never mind, you can use your ten thousand franc notes 
that I shall give you as a bandage for your eyes." 

" I hope I shall get some others out of him ; but remember, 
old fellow, it is all for your sake." 

" I know all about that ; but now come and take some of 
these pretty curl papers." 

Oxwall always carried plenty of money about him. It is 
one of the necessities of a bookmaker's occupation to do so. 
He pulled out of his pocket-book a nice little lot of notes 
pinned together, which he offered to Mile. Martingale, who 
began to finger them before putting them in her pocket. 

" It is a long time since I have seen so many at once," said 
she. 

" To be continued in our next," answered Oxwall gaily. 

" You are a duck of a man ! where shall I find you to tell 
you the result of my embassy 1 If you like to come as far 
as the Northern Station, you could remain in the waiting- 
room there. The cafe is only just across the road." 

" Thank you," answered Oxwall quickly. " Trains come in 
from Chantilly every few minutes, and I should be certain 
to be twigged by some of those chaps who know me ; besides, 
you would keep me waiting too long. A business breakfast, 
is as bad as a lover's meeting, and might be prolonged in- 
definitely, and your sitting with Mowbridge combines both 
of them." 

" Oh, we shall breakfast in the public room, so it won't be 
much of a lovers' meeting ; but anyhow the meeting may be 
a long one, and I don't want you to waste your time. Shall 
we meet at two o'clock then in Montholon Square 1 " 

" That will suit me, though it is generally pretty full." 
" Yes, with nurses, babies, and private soldiers ; no one of 
that class knows you ; they will think that you are talking 
to your young woman. Do you know that you ought to 
have one 1 " 

" So I should if I had the time, and, most likely it would 
be you ; but I have no leisure. Well, I will be in the square 
at two." 

" Most likely I shall be there before you ; but I am off 
now, for fear of losing my man. The Northern Station is 
not too near to us, but I can take a cab over." 

" Ah ! you remind me that I have something to give you. 
The ten thousand was on account for Mowbridge, but you 
cannot enter on the campaign without the sinews of war. 
Hold out your pretty paw, my dear." 



238 Fickle Heart 

Mile. Martingale opened her hand with an expectant 
smile, and Oxwall put into it a dozen louis which he fished 
out of his waistcoat pocket, which was always well furnished. 

" This is nothing to do with what you are to have this 
evening. These are for your expenses at the cafe." 

" Thanks, I accept them ; the nineteen francs fifty that I 
had in my purse would not go very far, and I don't want that 
ape to take me for a sponge. That would hinder the nego- 
tiation, whilst now he shall invite me to breakfast, and I 
will pay the bill. That will be much more the thing." 

" That's a good girl ! you go into the thing well, and I am 
a lucky man to have you on my side. Now, suppose you be 
off, and good-bye until two o'clock ." 

" Give me a kiss, then, for that will make me lucky." 

Oxwall did not hesitate to give Malvina a fatherly salute, 
and the girl flew off like a bird. A moment afterwards she 
was rolling rapidly in a cab in the direction of the Northern 
Station, whilst the bookmaker rubbed his hands in joyous 
anticipation of his success. These two understood each other 
perfectly ; the young lady, who had a weakness for all those 
connected with the turf, had the same ideas of honesty as her 
employer. They both possessed an elastic conscience, with 
but few professional scruples. Neither of them would have 
stolen a pocket-book which had been forgotten on a mantel- 
piece, but both thought it legitimate to gain money by means 
which are not in use amongst rigidly honest persons. 

Both Oxwall and Malvina were always ready to take 
advantage of fools, but by different methods. As a matter 
of fact, they were both of them better than Count Gontran 
de Sartilly, and much more excusable. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

A DELICATE MISSION 

Malvina got out at the railway waiting-room, so as not to 
be remarked by the loungers in the cafe. She wanted to 
make it look as if she had just come by train, and, luckily 
for her, one arrived at that moment, and it was easy for her 
to mingle with the stream of passengers that flowed through 
the door. She had only to cross the road to enter the cafe, 
where she hoped to meet Mowbridge, and although but few 
of the tables were occupied, she had some trouble in dis- 
covering him, half hidden as he was in a corner. He was 
seated alone, with a pint of porter in front of him, and he 
took up so little space that it was not easy to detect him at 
once. Mowbridge was a mite of a man, certainly not more than 
five feet in height, and with hardly an atom of flesh on his 
bones, full of muscle, as thin as a weasel, with a mean- 
looking face, which completed his resemblance to that 
unpleasant little animal. Malvina had not exaggerated at 
all that he was hideous, and to-day he looked more un- 
pleasant than ever. With half-shut eyes, and a pipe stuck 
in his mouth, he smoked on without looking at anyone, and 
without emptying his glass. 

He was well dressed in a suit of clothes of English cut, 
and looked the jockey all over. 

He had been there more than an hour, and the waiters, 
who knew his habits, had not attempted to disturb him. 
Mile. Martingale was less respectful ; she went straight up 
to him, and tapped him on the shoulder. 

" Hulloa ! old John, wake up ; this isn't tbe time of day 
for a snooze, my boy." 

The man gave a start, raised his head, and his countenance 
rose, as he recognised Malvina, for whom he had a weakness. 

" I have come to breakfast with you," said she. " I have 
invited myself." 

" I ain't hungry," grunted Mowbridge. 

" All the better, you won't cost me so much, fori am go ;, !g 
to stand it," retorted the young lady, with a burst of laughter. 
" But I'll lay odds you are thirsty." Then, as he made no 
answer, she continued, "Leave that porter alone, it only 
makes you stupid, and let us have some brandy together." 

" Of course, I will always drink with you," said Mowbridge. 



240 Fickle Heart 

" Waiter," said Malvina, " breakfast for two : boiled eggs, 
cold roast beef, Chester cheese, a bottle of your best chablis, 
and another of brandy." 

" Immediately, madame." 

" And now," continued Malvina, addressing the rider for 
the Sartilly and Saint Senier stable, " make room for me, to 
sit down by you. I have a heap of things to tell you." 

Mowbriage, who was quite delighted, drew on one side so 
as to permit her to sit down by him. "First," said she, " I 
want to know what on earth makes you look like a miserable 
devil. Is it to show your appreciation of my visit that you 
put on a face like that." 

Mowbridge understood French well enough, but he did not 
speak it very fluently, so he avoided making long speeches. 

" I am very pleased to see you," said he. 

" That is lucky, but what is the matter with you 1" 

" I am — awfully — bothered." 

" "What about, come, tell me all your troubles." 

" Well, in the first place, I am fond of you, and you laugh 
at me." 

"Well, who knows how matters may turn out, if you 
behave yourself. But there is something behind that. I'll 
bet that you lost last Sunday at Longchamps." 

" Not only on Sunday, and somewhere else besides at 
Longchamps." 

"In some gambling hell then, last night?" 

" Yes, I haven't been to bed yet." 

" Ah, you lead a nice life, you do. The day before riding 
a»race, too ! why there is no sense in it. How much did you 
lose?" 

" Three hundred pounds, and not a half-penny to pay 
them with." 

" The deuce ! I can understand that you must be in a 
sweet temper. But after all, seven thousand five hundred 
francs isn't anything outrageous ; why you can pick up that 
easily if you win the Produce Stakes." 

" Yes, if the bookmakers will bet with me, but they know 
that I am head-over-ears in debt." 

" Well, but you are sure of pulling it off, are you not 1 " 

" Oh, yes ! I shall win easy." 

" Well, but the owners will give you five hundred pounds at 
least, as a present." 

" Not a hundred ; they are awfullv close, especially Saint 
Senier." 

" And Sartilly is played out ; old John, I pity you." 

This dialogue was interrupted by tbe waiter bringing the 
brandy, and the other things that had been ordered. 



A Delicate Mission 241 

" How old is your cognac 1 " asked Malvina, of the waiter. 

" Ten years older than you, Miss." 

" Get along with you, I am five-and-twenty, so that would 
make it thirty-six, and the oldest that you have isn't six. 
Never mind, so long as it will let us drink it." She did not 
dare to say " as long as it will make him drunk ! : ' although 
her design was to make Mowbridge intoxicated, and she 
poured him out a bumper of brandy, and drank his health 
herself in Chablis. She had a fine appetite, and after having 
finished the eggs in the twinkling of an eye, she attacked the 
roast beef, but she could not induce her guest to eat. He 
remained deaf to all her persuasions on this point, though he 
drank deeply ; but unluckily the more he drank, the more 
taciturn and gloomy he became, and Mile. Martingale felt 
that she must not delay broaching the important question 
until he was thoroughly intoxicated. " Your owners don't 
desire that you should put yourself out of the way for them," 
said she ; " if I were in your place, I would let them in." 

" If I was sure of getting something better, I would play 
them a nice trick, but I haven't another place in view." 

" Yes, I should think I would play them a trick. Why, 
these gentlemen, for whom you are going to gain hundreds 
of thousands of francs, for I know that they have backed 
their horse heavily, absolutely bargain with you. It is 
really disgraceful. If I were you, John Mowbridge, I'd see 
what sort of a face they would put on if Snowflake was 
beaten." 

" So I would, but it doesn't depend on me." 

" Don't talk rubbish ! on the contrary all depends on you." 

" Possibly ; but how would it all end ? I should be abused 
like a pickpocket, lose my present place, and if it was found 
out that I had pulled the horse, I should be kicked out like 
a shot." 

Malvina looked at him fixedly. "I am just going to tell 
you how it would all end." 

" How it would end ! " repeated the jockey, with a shake 
of his head, " in a deuced bad way, I should be disqualified 
from riding, that's all, and as I can't lay against the horse I 
am to ride, I don't see what I should gain by making him 
lose." 

" In the first place you would gain my heart," returned 
Malvina, with a smile, "for I should love you at once, my 
little .John." 

" You say so now, but " 

" And I will prove it to you. It is some time since I have 
commenced to have a liking for you. Certainly you are not 
handsome, but you are awfully funny, and have wit enough 



242 FieMe Heart 

for half a dozen ; I have a perfect horror of fools, and you 
suit me down to the ground." 
" I shouldn't have thought it." 

" Because I kept you off rather a long time. You don't 
expect a woman to throw herself at a man's head. People 
either have, or have not some decency. Well, I am one of 
those that have, but I am not a prude by a long chalk, and if 
you would be nice to me I would not be behindhand, and 
would show you what a real Parisian girl is like when she 
lays herself out to please." 

Mowbridge, with the light of desire gleaming in his eyes, 
gazed at her, but he was in no hurry to reply. 

" "What do you call being nice to you," said he at last. 
" Don't play the innocent with me ; you know well enough 
that I want to prevent your two fine gentlemen from winning 
the Grand Produce Stakes." 

" Why, what is your reason for that ? " 
" I am down on them." 

" Down on them ! " repeated Mowbridge, who evidently 
did not comprehend her. 

" It means that I detest them both. Sartilly said that I 
was ugly, and Saint Senier last year had me turned out of 
the weighing enclosure, though I had come in there on the 
arm of a Brazilian who was quite the gentleman ; though for 
that matter I am as respectable as his wife who is in love 
with her coachman. I vowed that I would be revenged at 
the first opportunity, and here it is, and a good one too." 

" It may be a good one for you, but not for me. I should 
risk a great deal for nothing." 

" Ah ! there you go thinking that I want you to do work for 
nothing. No, no, my dear fellow, I know the world, and 
what I propose would bring you in a good round sum, much 
more than your fine employers would give you." 

The expression on the jockey's face changed at once, and 
he became so serious in a moment that Malvina at once 
guessed that the wish to gain money was strong within him. 
" Now I will put down my cards fairly," continued she 
quickly. " "What would you say if I offered you twenty-five 
thousand francs to pull your horse in the race 1 " 

" But have you really got twenty-five thousand francs 1 " 
" Why shouldn't I have them 1 You think that because I 
haven't a carriage, now that I have gone to smash. Learn, 
my little man, that I could have one at once if I wanted it. 
If I have curtailed my expenditure, it was because I like to 
save a bit, but I might roll in gold if I liked. I have always 
had an eye to the main chance, and have put away something 
for a rainy day : there is a good lining to my strong box, and 



A Delicate Mission 243 

all those who roll by in their carriages can't say. the same, 
but, old man, I only say this to you, because you don't let 
your tongue wag too freely." 

The real truth was that Malvina had not saved anything 
in the days of her prosperity, and had on the spur of the 
moment invented this state of opulency ; but she said to 
herself : " If I can only make him believe that it is I who 
pay, he will never suspect that Oxwall supplies me with the 
money." But if she wanted money, Mowbridge did not want 
cunning, and shaking his head, he replied, " If you are rich, 
it is all the better for you, but you are a very foolish woman 
to spend more than a thousand pounds sterling to injure these 
gentlemen who have had the misfortune to annoy you. If 
we could get someone else to find the money to work out 
your plan, it would be a different matter." 

" Decidedly there is a hitch in the matter," thought Mile. 
Martingale ; then rapidly changing her ground, she said, 
" Well, suppose then that I have a partner, that would not 
alter the state of affairs 1 You will be all the more certain of 
being paid." 

" In this life we are sure of nothing," said Mowbridge, 
sententiously. 

"Eight, and the proof of that is that these gentlemen 
absolutely believe that they are certain of winning the Pro- 
duce Stakes, and it is also certain that you can make them 
lose. But would you believe in the twenty-five thousand 
francs if you saw them ? " 

" Show them to me." 

" That is easy enough, and presently I will convince you ; 
but you do not suppose that I will give them to you unless 
you engage to earn them, and before that, I want to know 
how you will arrange to have Snowflake beaten 1 " 

" That is my secret. Why should I trust you, when you 
won't trust me 1 " 

" Here is a question in return. If I give you the money 
in advance, what guarantee have I that you will keep faith 
with me ? " 

" In this way we shall never come to an understanding." 

" Perhaps there may be another means. Suppose I gave you a 
good sum down, and the rest after the horse had been beaten V 

" I will accept that." 

" Good ! only I repeat that you must tell me how you 
will manage it. It is easy to say that you will make 
the horse that you are riding lose." 

" And easy to do, too," answered M owbridge. 

" Why then did you tell me a little time back that it did 
Hot depend on you to do aoi" 



244 Fickle Heart 

" Because I had not made up my mind to accept your pro- 
posal . You persisted that it was very simple and so it is ? " 

" Yes, in holding him in, or stopping him half way, but 
everyone would see that, and you would be disqualified as a 
rider for the rest of your life. Not to mention that you 
would have a bad time of it amongst the crowd. Why, the 
backers of Snowflake would be ready to murder you when 
you went to weigh. Are you disposed to risk that incon- 
venience, apart from your exclusion from every course ? " 

" There are other means than those." 

" What are they, John, my boy 1 " 

"First, one can get off badly ; that is a thing of everyday 
occurrence where you are riding a thoroughbred ; you let 
the others that are making the running get a start, you pick 
up a little, and in the run in you give him his head " 

" And come in with a rush in the straight. Why every lad 
knows that, and it would go against us, for you would win." 

"That depends on how much start you let the others get. 
If they have too much, you can't catch them up again, and 
no one can blame the jockey. A thing just like that hap- 
pened at the Chantilly Derby." 

" That is to say that the public did not detect it ; without 
accusing you of fraud, the owner might call you an awkward 
hound and kick you out." 

" I should easily console myself for that, for I don't care 
much for remaining with those gentlemen. But it is not an 
easy game to play with a horse like Snowflake. It is as much 
as I can do to hold him, though I have a good pair of arms, 
and he might make a bolt of it, and win in spite of me." 

" Then that trick isn't worth much." 

" You can also take the outside instead of the inside of the 
course, and make the long round, instead of the short one." 

"No, no, not a soul would believe in a fly fellow like you 
doing such a foolish thing. That plan, too, is bad." 

" Then I can drug the horse in the stable." 

" No, I won't have any poisoning." 

" I don't like it either." 

" Well, then, what is to be done 1 It seems as if he must 
gain in spite of you." 

" I have kept the best plan for the last. I can lose weight 
during the race." 

" How can you do that ? You can't grow thin in four 
minutes ?" said Malvina, with a laugh. 

" No, but I am so much lighter than the other jockeys 
that I always have to carry weight ; suppose that some of 
it dropped during the race ? " 

" Good, good, that is an idea at last.' 



A Delicate Mission 245 

"I win. I go to the weighing room, they put me in 
the scales with my saddle on my lap, and they find that I am 
six pounds under weight. I might as well have come in 
last. The second horse is declared the winner. The crowd 
hoot and swear when the number goes up, but it is no use, 
the horse has lost the race." 

" That is the really good game ; if you only think that you 
can drop the leads between the start and the finish." 

" Yes, I can ; but if I tell you all this, it is to show you that 
the result of the race depends on me." 

" Then the matter is settled % " 

"Not yet." 

" Ah ! I understand, you want to see the flimseys. Wait 
a momeDt," and Mile. Martingale began to undo the bosom 
■ if her dress. Then she pulled out the packet that Oxwall 
had given her, and placed it on the table between the Chester 
cheese and the bottle of brandy, which was nearly exhausted, 
for Mowbridge took a deep draught between each of his 
replies. 

" There," said she, "are ten out of the twenty-five. You 
will have the balance, as I told you, to-morrow after the 
race. Is the instalment sufficient ? " 

" Quite so." 

"Then pocket it, old John. You have given me your 
•word, and I am satisfied. You would not let me appear a 
mug, in the eyes of my partner." 

But to Malvina's great surprise Mowbridge did not attempt 
to take up the notes that she placed before him. 

" Well," exclaimed she, rather ironically, " does your tender 
conscience want more soothing. Tell me, what more do you 
require 1 " 

The small eyes of the jockey blazed with eagerness, 
Malvina for the moment thought that he was completely 
intoxicated, and for precaution's sake was about to remove 
the banknotes from beyond his reach, when he bent towards 
her and hoarsely whispered in her ear, " / want you!' 

" All right, we will dine together after the race ; but, re- 
member, I am not like my partner : I don't pay anything in 
advance." 

" I will wait, but I shan't be content with what you offer me." 

" The deuce," exclaimed Malvina, " you want a lot. What 
more are you going to ask me 1 You have already got my 
heart, do you want my hand in addition 1 No, no, my little 
man, not that — Flattered as I should be to be styled Madame 
Mowbridge, I am not going before the Eegistrar. I am for 
liberty and not for a binding wedlock." 

" I was not thinking of the Eegistrar," replied the jockey. 



246 Fickle Heart 

" I am very glad of it, and I must have misunderstood you, 
for I said to myself, ' why on earth does he want to set up 
house-keeping, and with me too V A h ! we two should get on 
well together. It would be as pleasant a household as the 
Saint Senier's or the Sartilly's, without the money they have." 

" You said just now that you had money." 

" I have enough to live on. But come, explain yourself. 
What am I to do to satisfy you 1 " 

" Come and live with me entirely ; follow me to England." 

" Follow you to England ? do you think that I am going to 
live in your confounded country ] " 

"I shall probably be forced to do so. When Snowflake is 
beaten I shall most likely lose my berth ; and even if they do 
not accuse me of having lost the race purposely, they will say 
that I have ridden badly, or that I am unlucky, therefore no 
French owner of horses will give me a mount again, but in 
England, where I am well known, I shall easily get employ- 
ment. You see what I shall risk to oblige you." 

" You exaggerate matters, my dear John ; I agree with you 
that you will not remain with Sartilly and Co., but that 
won't hurt you, for this reason, that stable won't pull off 
anything and will go to smash, and you will get a berth in a 
more solvent concern. The racing season has only just begun." 

" I know that, but all places are filled up." 

" There will be a vacancy ; besides, the twenty-five thousand 
francs which you will receive will enable you to wait 
patiently for a bit." 

" A thousand pounds won't last me long." 

" I won't help you to squander them, since I love you for 
yourself, and not for your money." 

" You can love me as well in England." 

" Not a bit of it. I know your island, for once I went to 
London with a friend ; at the end of three days we began to 
quarrel ; I was like a fish out of water. The fog irritated my 
nerves. Another time I made the acquaintance of a Scotch 
lord, and paid him a visit at his seat in the North. I think 
that he would have finished by marrying me, but at the end 
of a month I could stand it no longer, and took to my heels." 

" If you had stayed a year you would have got used to it." 

" Never ; I should have been a dead woman." 

" You wouldn't say so if you knew anything of real English 
country life : a cottage not too far from London, but just far 
enough, chickens, cows, and perhaps some babies to look after." 

" That sounds charming ; but I am not cut out for the farm 
business, much less am I suited to be the mother of a family ; 
and I don't think you would make a very good gentleman 
farmer as they call it there." 



A Delicate Mission 247 

" It wouldn't prevent my riding, and making lots of money 
by the races." 

" And drinking it away in the public-house of the village, 
and losing it at whist or poker, to your friends ! " 

" Not often ; and I should be quite satisfied to come home 
after a good day at Epsom, Ascot, Doncaster and Goodwood, 
with my pockets full of guineas, and have a cup of tea with 
my little woman." 

" Who would have been bored out of her life all day, and 
would be half asleep when you did come in. Thank you, I 
prefer a dinner at the Cafe" des Ambassadeurs, in the gallery, 
to hear Mme. Faure sing, and afterwards to go to supper 
at the American Cafe. To like cottage life, one must have 
been born to it. I did not begin early enough, and should 
never grow accustomed to it. Marry an Englishwoman, if 
you want to go in for that sort of thing.'' 

"I don't care for Englishwomen.'' 

" There you are ; and you want to acclimatise a Trench 
girl to your fine country. Well, we will go together and 
look for one, but I tell you plainly that it will be a 
failure." 

Mowbr'idge's face lengthened ; he swallowed three bumpers 
of brandy, one after the other, and relapsed into an uneasy 
silence. The bank notes still lay on the table, and Malvina 
began to fear that he would not take them. " Drop all these 
ideas of domestic bliss, we are neither of us made for it. Let 
us stay and amuse ourselves in Paris, and have a good time 
of it, as long as the money lasts, and afterwards we shall see 
what we shall do. You complain that the bargain is not a 
good one ; why, here are ten thousand francs waiting for you 
to put them into your pocket, and to-morrow you will have 
fifteen thousand more ; and here am I ready to have a spree 
with John Mowbridge for quite an indefinite time, and yet 
you are not happy. On my word you are hard to please. If 
you loved me as much as you pretend, I am sure that you 
wouldn't think twice on the matter, and I tell you, without 
any more beating about the bush, that your hesitation 
begins to annoy me ; besides, I am in a hurry, so decide 
quickly. If you refuse to do what I ask, don't let us say 
any more about it, and I will arrange some other way.'' 

" Swear that you will be mine," said Mowbridge suddenly. 

"I swear; and now, old man, swear in your turn that 
Snowflake shall be beaten in the race for the Produce Stakes. 
You may use what means you like to bring it about." 

" Done, he shall lose. I have given you my word, and the 
devil take me if I don't keep it." 

" That's right, pocket the notes." 



248 Fickle Heart 

Mowbridge at last brought himself to do so, saying : 
" When shall I see you again ? " 

" To-morrow, of course. Not on the course, though ; people 
would notice us, and they might talk ; besides, I don't intend 
to dine with you in your jacket and boots. After the race, 
go and change your dress, and wait for me at six o'clock in 
the Champs Elysees, between the Palace of Industry and 
the Rotunda of the Panorama. Hardly anyone passes there. 
I will bring you the balance due to you, fifteen thousand 
francs, and then, my boy, love— joy— and happiness." 

" Yes, I trust so," answered the jockey, devouring Malvina 
with his eyes, who congratulated herself on having concluded 
the bargain so well. 

And now it was time for this astute young lady to go and 
render an account of her embassy to Ox wall. She called the 
waiter, settled the account, and whispering to the unhappy 
John, so that her lips brushed his dry, tanned cheek, said, 
" Thanks, old man, you shall not find me ungrateful. "We 
will live in Paris like a pair of turtle doves. I snap my 
fingers at the Registrar, who is not going to marry us, and a 
fig for the country cottage in England." 

After this tender leave-taking there was nothing else for 
her but to go, and once outside the cafe, she hastened to 
Montholon Square, by the Rue Denain and the Rue Lafayette. 
She was late for her appointment, for the conversation at 
breakfast had taken up more time than she had anticipated, 
and two o'clock struck as she left it, but she arrived at her 
destination quickly. On reaching the square she perceived 
Oxwall standing on the pavement talking to a gentleman, 
whom she did not at first recognise, as his back was turned 
to her. Malvina was too knowing to go up to the book- 
maker when he was speaking to a stranger. She therefore 
stopped short some thirty paces off, and waited until they 
had finished. She soon saw Oxwall's companion get into a 
victoria, which was standing a little distance off ; as he did so, 
Malvina for the first time caught a glimpse of his face, and 
could hardly believe her eyes when she recognised the 
Count de Sartilly. What could he want to say to Oxwall, 
who was plotting his ruin ? But before she could solve the 
riddle, the bookmaker saw her, and came up. " Well ? " 
asked he, with an inquiring look. 

" The trick is done," answered she. " I had no end of 
trouble, but I managed it at last. He has taken the money 
on account, and he has promised to make the horse lose 
in some way or other ; he told me that there were three or 
four dodges that he was up to." 

" I know them all. It does not signify which he tries as 



A Delicate Mission- 249 

long as lie succeeds. The question is whether he is going to 
play square. What do you think ? " 

" On my faith I think he is all right, he will keep his 
word, and I fear I must keep mine. You don't know what 
I had to promise him. Ah, no one can say that I don't risk 
something when I start on such an expedition." 

" You shall be well rewarded. To-morrow, after the last 
race, come and see me in the corner behind the Stands, and 
then, if Snowflake is beaten I will give you twenty-five 
thousand francs, of which ten thousand are for yourself." 

" What will please me more than anything will be to see 
the face Sartilly will make. Tell me, was it not he that was 
talking to you just now ? " 

" Ah, you recognised him, did you ? Yes ; he was driving 
past, and seeing me seated on a bench, he called me up to 
him to ask me a question about the odds." 

Oxwall took care not to tell the truth, which was that the 
Count de Sartilly had called him to pay him the eighty-five 
thousand francs which he had just drawn from the Comptoir 
d'Escompte, with a cheque signed Vacheron. 

" You will have served him out nicely," said Malvina, 
with a smile ; " if he only guessed your little game." 

" But he does not, thanks, my girl," said Oxwall, abruptly 
turning towards the Madeleine. 

Mile. Martingale made no effort to follow him, but said to 
herself : " Now I see the whole plant ; both Sartilly and 
Oxwall are in the swim. A fine thing, indeed, when an owner 
makes arrangements for nobbling his own horse. I've got 
him now, though ; and if he ventures to be insolent to me 
again I can shut him up." 

Malvina was wrong. Gontran and Oxwall were not con- 
federates ; but it was sufficient for her to believe it, to bring 
about the terrible scene which later on worked the ruin of 
Valentine's guilty husband. 



CHAPTEE XXVIII 

AN AMICABLE ARRANGEMENT 

Gontran had lost no time since he had received the letter 
which Lisa had brought him, containing amicable propositions 
from M. Vacheron. He had answered it at once, as his 
father-in-law had insisted on his doing, and therefore sent 
the few lines written on a leaf torn from his pocket-book. 

These lines simply said that the next day by twelve o'clock 
M. Vacheron should receive the written promise of the 
Count, by which he accepted all the conditions laid down. 
Sartilly had looked upon the matter as settled, and had lost 
no time in telling Oxwall that he was not going to carry out 
the agreement entered into between them at the Horse Show. 
Nothing therefore remained but to settle with the ex-con- 
tractor, and the Count then perceived a difficulty which he 
had not anticipated. In what terms could he draw up the 
agreement which M. Vacheron exacted. It was not a deed 
of partnership like that which he bad signed with Saint 
Senier. The convention between father and son-in-law had 
nothing in common with those documents which solicitors 
draw up. It was quite impossible to use other agreements 
as a guide, and an entirely new line must be adopted ; then 
again, what suited Gontran might not please Vacheron, who 
was the master of the situation, since it rested with him to 
furnish the money of which Sartilly had such pressing need. 
If therefore Vacheron did not accept what his son-in-law 
drew up delay would ensue, which would be most prejudicial 
to him. One thing seemed to him perfectly certain ; that such 
an important document could not be entrusted to the post, 
and that if he wanted the matter to be concluded at once 
he must, although he felt a great repugnance to it, treat 
personally with M. Vacheron, for it would be impossible to 
employ any third person as an ambassador between them. 
The thing that astonished him more than anything was the 
postscript which Valentine had added to the letter, and in 
which she openly espoused the cause of her father, and that 
for the first time since he'r marriage, for she had hitherto 
always endeavoured to find excuses for her husband. This 
was an awkward display of feeling on her part, but Gontran 
did not yet look upon himself as beaten. If he had lost the 



An Amicable Arrangement 251 

first game he might win the second, could he but suc- 
ceed in seeing his wife ; the only chance he had of doing so 
was to visit the house in which she had resided ever since 
she had abruptly left her own. 

He therefore made up his mind to go there after 
having destroyed the bridge behind him by breaking with 
Oxwafl, he had nothing to do but to wait for the decisive 
morrow, and therefore only sought for something to fill up 
the time. Sartilly was not one of those men who go to bed 
to recruit their strength. He dined merrily with his partner, 
Saint Senier, and about midnight sat down to baccarat. 
There he had a run of good luck, and at an early hour in the 
morning he got up from the table largely a winner. He slept 
until ten the next morning, then rose, dressed, and drove to 
the Rue de la Neva. 

He had calculated on reaching the house at breakfast- 
time, and had hoped that his wife, who no doubt was ex- 
pecting his arrival, would arrange to be present at the inter- 
view ; or at any rate to appear, if it was only for a moment. 
He even flattered himself that hearing his carriage she might 
show herself at the window. On alighting from his carriage 
he looked up, but his first illusion was at once dissipated, 
for there was no one looking out. Getting over his disap- 
pointment, he entered the house calmly, and was about to 
ascend the staircase without saying a word to the porter, 
when a door on the ground floor opened, and M. Vacheron 
appeared. He had evidently watched for his son-in-law's 
arrival through the windows of his study ; and this pre- 
caution showed that he intended to receive him in the 
strictest privacy, for he evidently distrusted his daughter's 
firmness, and was determined to prevent her meeting her 
husband. The Count, though much put out, knew how to 
dissimulate his annoyance, and bowed to M. Vacheron, who 
silently made him a sign to come into the room. When they 
were both seated at a writing-table Gontran broke the 
silence : " I presume that you expected me," said he. 

The only reply of M. Vacheron was to place before his 
son-in-law a sheet of stamped paper, covered with writing. 

"Ah !" said the Count, a little taken aback by this mode of 
proceeding, " this is the agreement, is it 1 " and he proceeded 
to peruse it. It ran thus : — 

" I, the undersigned, Gontran, Count de Sartilly, acknow- 
ledge having received from M. Vacheron, my father-in-law, 
the sum of two hundred thousand francs by a cheque on the 
Comptoir d'Escompte, to which sum I have no legal right, 
and it will remain to my debit if I break the agreement here- 
in-under laid down. 



252 Fickle Heart 

" In exchange for the above-named sum, for which this 
shall be M. Vacheron's receipt, I agree — 

" First. Not to bring any action against my -wife, Valen- 
tine Vacheron, for restitution of conjugal rights, and to 
permit our relations to remain as they are. 

" Second. To quit France within eight days, and not to 
return there so long as my wife shall live ; it being always 
agreed that whilst I remain abroad I shall draw the 
whole income accruing from my wife's dowry. 

" And it is further understood that if I break any of the 
terms of this agreement, to which I have given my full as- 
sent, my wife shall be perfectly at liberty to sue for a divorce ; 
and to produce this indenture as proof of the facts which 
she may in so doing advance, so that it may be brought to 
the knowledge of the Court, that a decree of divorce may 
be given against me without prejudice to any other legal 
measures which may be taken against me." 

Sartilly read this document in silence, without his face 
showing any token of his feelings, until he arrived at the last 
clause of the agreement. " I shall not sign that," said he, 
and threw the paper on to the table. 

" As you like," replied Vacheron, coldly. 

" No, I will never sign it," repeated Sartilly. 

" Then you had better have remained at home." 

" I should never have put myself out of the way to have 
come here, had I foreseen that you would have caused an 
agreement to be drawn up in which I acknowledge having 
committed all sorts of faults." 

"Not faults, crimes." 

" The more reason then that I should not sign," returned 
Gontran, insolently. 

" Good, I shall save my money then. I prefer that." 

The Count bit his lips. He had not expected that his 
father-in-law would display so much firmness, and Valentine, 
who from her weakness might have been an efficient ally, was 
not present. 

" I had decided," said he at length, " to have accepted the 
proposals contained in your letter of yesterday, for I could 
see that it was impossible for your daughter and I to live 
together any longer. It was therefore, best that we should 
arrange for a friendly separation, and as it would be most 
painful for me to meet my wife leaning on the arm of another 
— a wife, remember, that I still adore," said Sartilly raising 
his voice. 

" It is no good to speak so loud," interrupted Vacheron. 
" She cannot hear you, and it is useless to begin playing 
the old part again, for that is a thing of the past. You 



Aii Amicable Arrangement 253 

would be hissed in it, for my daughter is perfectly aware 
of your sentiments towards her." 

Gontran received this heavy blow without flinching. 

" If Valentine were only here," thought he, " thinga 
would be different ; " but unfortunately she was not, so he 
continued : " I therefore resigned myself to leave Paris, and 
to live abroad, provided that I should be enabled to keep up 
my position ; but I cannot sign a declaration that I have 
committed a crime." 

" That is not down." 

" It is the same as if it were. The judges to whom you 
might show this charming document would look upon it as a 
confession." 

" They would undertand it a great deal better if I showed 
them the bill, at the foot of which you had forged your 
wife's name." 

"That is false," said Gontran, without a moment's 
hesitation. 

" Do you dare to deny it," cried Vacheron. 

"Absolutely, and so did Valentine. The man who 
presented the bill told me all that passed, and I will call 
him as a witness if necessary." 

" And I will say that my daughter had pity on you, that 
she thought of the honour of the name she bore, and that to 
prevent the usurer who had lent you the money from pro- 
secuting you, she acknowledged the signature as hers. I 
guessed her generous intention, I paid the bill, and I do not 
regret having done so, for I now hold in my hands a sure proof, 
and if you force me I will lay it before a Court of Justice." 

" And do you for a moment think that the Public Pro- 
secutor will believe that you would have paid three hundred 
and fifty thousand francs to bearer, if the bill had been a 
false one ? " 

"I will tell him why I withdrew it. Magistrates know 
what is due to the respectability of a name, and they will 
understand me. The signature, too, shall be examined by 
experts in handwriting, who will compare the supposed 
signature of my daughter's with your endorsement, and they 
will have no hesitation in saying that they have both been 
executed by the same hand. I saw it myself at once, 
though I am not an expert by profession." 

" Certainly you are not, and that is why you are wrong, 
an expert would judge differently." 

" Then you persist in refusing the arrangement that 
I propose." 

" I would accept it if it were differently worded. There 
is a clause too much ; suppress it and I sign." 



254 Fickle Heart 

" I will suppress nothing ; besides, what objection can you 
have to signing a paper which no one will see, unless indeed 
you do not intend to be bound by it ? " 

" But I do ; but what guarantee have I that you and your 
daughter will not at once sue for a divorce ; or that I shall 
regularly receive the income from the settlement." 

" I suppose you do not ask me to have the deed registered. 
That would not make it any more valuable. Will you not 
be content with the two hundred thousand francs, and my 
word ? ; ' 

This speech recalled to Sartilly the real position in which 
he stood. He had endeavoured to intimidate his father-in- 
law by sheer audacity, but he felt that if during the inter- 
view he did not get his mone}'', he was a lost man. His 
credit would be lost, and he would be at the bookmaker's 
mercy. Sooner then, let him remain in the hands of 
Valentine's father, who after all was an honest man. The 
firmness of the ex-contractor triumphed over the cunning of 
the embarrassed gentleman. 

" Decide, quickly," said Vacheron. " I consented to see 
you, because there was no help for it ; but this interview 
will be the last one that I grant you. If you leave 
without signing I shall burn this document for which I shall 
have no further use, and act at once." 

" What do you mean by ' act at once ' ? " 

" I will answer you without mincing matters at all. I 
shall go straight to my solicitor and with my daughter's 
consent, institute proceedings for a divorce. In support of it 
I shall produce the forged bill, with a full explanation of my 
reasons for paying it ; and so that he may be thoroughly 
prepared I shall tell him all the events that happened on the 
night when my daughter left her home ; the door broken in 
by your orders, the glass of water poisoned by a jade in your 
employ, and the will left on the table." 

" I do not understand what you mean," stammered 
Gontran, but his pallor gave the lie to his words. 

" Do not attempt to justify yourself, and believe me, do 
not drive me too far. I know everything, and can lay my 
hands on witnesses whenever I choose." 

"They would rind it hard to prove anything," muttered 
Gontran. 

"That is a point which I shall not argue with you. I 
have nothing further to say, let us finish, my time is 
valuable." 

Sartilly felt that he could offer no further opposition, but 
for form's sake, he answered, in a cold tone, " I am not at all 
alarmed by your threats, sir, and were it not for my wife's 



An Amicable Arrangement 255 

sake I should not hesitate to accept your declaration of war, 
but as it would be much more injurious to her than to me, 
I accept your conditions." 

" Then sign this document." 

" First I must have some information. How shall I draw 
my money ? " 

" Do not speak of your money ! but there, it is useless 
to argue. I will open a credit for you at the banker's in the 
town where you may elect to reside, and pay in to your credit 
every three months the sum you are entitled to." 

" You leave me the choice of my place of residence." 

" Yes, so long as it is out of France, and the further off it 
is, the better pleased I shall be. I don't forbid your settling 
in Japan, or Saint Francisco, if you like ; but as I said, every 
three months I will pay seventy-five thousand francs to 
your credit, unless you break the agreement, and attempt 
to return to France. I shall hear of it and the allowance 
will be stopped." 

" Then you are going to have me watched ? " 

" I don't object to your moving about," continued Vacheron, 
paying no attention to the ironical question of his son-in- 
law. " I have given you a week in which to leave Paris, 
therefore you must be away before seven days have elapsed ; 
all you have to do therefore is to let me know the name of 
the town where you first arrange to stop." 

" London, most probably." 

" Very well, London be it. I ought to have stipulated that 
it should be Pekin, but I wont go from my word. On 
your arrival you will get a draft on the Bank of England for 
seventy -five thousand francs ; you will receive another on the 
1st of August, and so on." 

" Shall I be permitted to write to my wife ? " asked 
Sartilly, who was always endeavouring to keep up the same 
pretence. 

" I cannot prevent your doing so," answered Vacheron, in 
icy tones, " but I warn you that your letters will be returned 
unopened, for you have nothing to hope for from her." 

Sartilly began to think that Valentine would never yield 
to him again, and the reign of sentiment was over for ever. 
Therefore all that was left to him was to make the most of 
the situation in which he found himself placed. 

" And now," said the old man, " let us make an end of this. 
Here is an open cheque on the Comptoir d'Escompte for two 
hundred thousand francs, payable to bearer ; I will hand it to 
you, as soon as you have put your name at the bottom of 
this paper." 

The sight of this cheque removed Gontran' s last scruples j 



256 Fickle Heart 

he seized the pen, signed, took the cheque, and putting on his 
hat left without another word. On getting into his carriage 
he again looked up, and'he fancied that he could see, through 
the open Venetian blinds on the first floor, someone looking 
at him. 

It was however but a fleeting vision, and before Gontran 
de Sartilly had the time to make a sign or utter a sound, the 
shadow, which had shown itself for a moment, disappeared. 
Foran instant he thought of re-entering the house, and running 
hastily up to the first floor, where perhaps a door might have 
been opened to him, but to do this he must have passed M. 
Vacheron's study, while it would have caused a disagreeable 
scene, and this was not the moment to expose himself to 
anything of the kind. 

To cash the cheque was the main thing at present, but he 
felt certain that Valentine, hidden behind the blind, had 
wished to gaze on him for the last time, and the reason that 
she had not met him was because she feared her own weak- 
ness. All hope therefore had not fled, and better 
opportunities might present themselves. 

The degrading agreement that he had signed did not 
weigh very heavily on his spirits, for he never for a moment 
intended to carry it out. He did not at all mind leaving for 
London in eight days. He would tell Saint Senier that he 
was going to look at a horse that he had heard of. On the 
first of May he would draw his quarter's allowance at the 
Bank of England, and after that he would act as events 
occurred. At any rate he had eight days in which to turn 
himself round, and to-morrow he was going to win the great 
Produce Stakes, by which he would gain a large sum of 
money, and be able to make head against the attacks of the 
ex-contractor. The agreement which he had signed was after 
all nothing but a scrap of paper with no other value than 
simply to prove that differences existed in his, as well as in 
other families, and with this the criminal law would have 
nothing to do ; as for a civil process, even if this bill was pro- 
duced the matter would never come to trial, as the affair would 
certainly be arranged, and so he felt that he had no reason 
to fear even if he did not carry out his agreement. During 
the week which still remained to him he fully intended to 
attempt to renew relations with his wife. Sartilly had this 
quality in common with great generals, he always maintained 
his position as long as there was the smallest chance of success; 
and a repulse, far from disheartening him, only rendered him 
more enterprising. He had no difficulty in getting the 
money from the Comptoir d'Escompte, and the sight of the 
banknotes renewed his courage. He could now get free 



An Unexpected Meeting 257 

from Oxwall, and the most imminent danger was warded off; 
and there was nothing to prevent his making a magnificent 
success with his horse, without risking himself in the 
dangerous ^raud proposed by the bookmaker. Now Snow- 
flake could run on the square. Oxwall had been'wamed the 
evening before that the Count would not make use of the 
narcotic drug ; he therefore could say nothing, for he would 
have plenty of time to turn himself round in. All that 
Sartilly had to do was to pay him his four thousand louis, 
which he had promised to do before the famous Produce 
Stakes were run for. Oxwall might feel angry with him for 
having broken off the arrangement at the last minute, and 
might even have spread those reports which Saint Senier had 
spoken of, and which had sent the horse back in the betting. 
Sartilly therefore determined, more firmly than ever, to keep 
guard over the horse himself, so that no one could get near 
the horse the night before the race, except his boy and the 
jockey. 



CHAPTEE XXIX 

AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 

After he had left the bank Gontran felt excessively hungry. 
The successful termination of his negotiation had given him 
an appetite, and as it was twelve o'clock, the hour for break- 
fast had arrived. He therefore drove to the Cafe Anglais 
where he met one of his club acquaintances, Alfred de 
Mussidan, a very pleasant fellow. They began to talk about 
horses and women. Mussidan asserted that Snowflake was 
still first favourite, and that his victory was a certainty ; he 
had laid heavily on Snowflake, and made sure of winning. 
This was a topic which was most agreeable to Sartilly, and 
put him in a good temper, and the breakfast went on merrily ; 
he fancied, however, that his'friend was pumping him as to 
his impression regarding his horse's chance, and Sartilly 
eagerly seized the opportunity to silence all hostile regrets by 
declaring that Snowflake was in perfect condition and could 
easily walk away from all his opponents ; for he knew that 
Mussidan, who was extremely well known throughout the 
sporting world, would repeat this communication everywhere, 
and in this he was not deceived. Mussidan was on his way to 
Chantilly, to see some horse in training there, and he grate- 
fully accepted Gontran's offer to give him a lift to the 

s 



258 Fickle Heart 

Northern Station. After shaking hands with his friend at 
the door of the ticket office, Gontran who did not for a 
moment imagine that within a few paces of him his own 
jockey Mowbridge was being cajoled by a designing woman 
in the pay of the treacherous Oxwall, drove down the Rue 
Lafayette, and perceived the bookmaker himself, seated on a 
chair in Montholon Square. Yielding to a sudden impulse 
Gontran called to his coachman to stop, without for a moment 
debating whether it would not have been better to have 
waited for the next day to have met his creditor on the 
course. He called the bookmaker, who came up to him at 
once, and the following interesting dialogue ensued. 
" You got my letter '( " 

" Yes, Count," answered Oxwall, politely. " It pleased and 
saddened me at the same time. Pleased me, because it showed 
me that you were in a position to clear off your obligations to 
me, and saddened me, because I had to renounce an operation 
which would have made us both rich." 

" Very sorry, my dear fellow, but I wouldn't run the risk 
of compromising myself even to be agreeable to you. I had 
agreed hardly knowing why I did so, but I afterwards 
reflected and changed my mind. I told you of this alteration 
in good time, and I therefore hope that we shall still be good 
friends." 

" Certainly, Count ; I shall always feel honoured by your 
business, and to lay you what you like, only I can't hide 
from you that your defection has cost me a good deal. I had 
laid against Snowflake since our last interview, and I don't 
know whether I shall be able to hedge at Longchamps, so as 
to cover my loss." 

" Yon will not find that hard, as there are all sorts of 
rumours flying about regarding the horse. All are false, of 
course ; but I cannot trace the source from which they have 
emanated. At any rate, he has gone back in the betting, 
so my partner tells me." 

" Ah ! it was M. de Saint Senier that told you ; then I 
can understand it. He has backed the horse heavily, and 
he hopes, by depreciating him, to get on at a better price. 
I myself wouldn't lay against him any more at any odds ; 
and I confess that if I was in M. de Saint Senier's place I 
should do the same. At any rate, you have consoled me a 
little by telling me that you will be able to settle up, for I 
can tell you that my losses will be heavy." 

" As I have met you, I may as well do so at once,'' said 
Sartilly, putting his hand into his pocket, which was swollen 
with bank-notes, and taking out the sum in which he waa 
indebted to the bookmaker. 



An Unexpected Meeting 259 

Oxwall took theni with a satisfaction which he did not 
attempt to dissimulate ; and stowing them away said, with 
a half-ironical smile, " I congratulate you, Count. You seem 
to have been pulling them in a bit, and I hope to-morrow that 
you will double your capital. Back your horse for as much 
as you can. Not with me ; for, as I had the honour to tell 
you just now, I wouldn't lay against him at any price, even 
at ten to one, were it only for five louis, so sure am I that he 
will win the Great Produce Stakes." Of all the means of 
deception, the simple lie is the most efficacious. Oxwall 
was perfectly convinced that Snowflake would be beaten, 
thanks to Mowbridge's intended treachery ; and yet at the 
moment he spoke he had not received the report of his 
ambassadress ; but then he was thoroughly acquainted with 
the character and disposition of the jockey, and he did not 
therefore run a great risk in holding the reassuring language 
that he did, to the man that he intended to ruin. The wily 
Malvina was not far off, for she had left the cafe before the 
Count arrived at the Northern Station. He had passed her 
both going and returning, and might have recognised her, 
for he knew her by sight from having often met her at the 
various racecourses. But to-day he was in his carriage, and 
she on foot, and he disdained to cast his eyes on the passers- 
by, even on pretty women, if they walked on foot instead of 
riding in their carriages. But she had seen him talking to 
the bookmaker, and, like the sharp girl she was, had 
refrained from showing herself until he had left. 

The Count was most desirous of going to see the horse 
which the evening before he was ready to drug, even at the 
risk of poisoning it ; so he drove straight to the Madrid 
Restaurant without going home first. It was a well-chosen 
time for his visit, for few people were about, and he had 
no wish for idlers of his acquaintance to hook themselves on 
to him. He certainly ran the chance of meeting both Saint 
Senier and his wife at the stables, as the latter had manifested 
a desire to see the horse ; but he hoped to be there before 
them. He did get there before them, or anyone else. 
Snowflake was alone in charge of his lad, a youth of eighteen, 
who answered to the name of Dick, who was English, born 
and bred on the estate of Lord Winter, from whom the 
horse had been purchased. A boy is not of much account in 
the stable, and yet on him depends the health of a future 
Derby winner, for it is his duty to look after him continually 
by day as well as night, to take him out to exercise, to groom 
him, and to give him his feeds. 

The horse has a strong instinct of gratitude, and if he is 
well treated by him, he will take a great liking to his boy, 



260 Fickle Heart 

which the latter returns, and there is as much good feeling 
between them as between a good master and an attached 
servant. 

This was the case with Dick and Snowflake. Dick had 
known him, from a foal, and had never been away from him. 
They had crossed to France in the same boat, and had lived 
for three months at the stud farm at Mortcerf, and from 
thence had come to Paris in the same horse-box. 

Sartilly appreciated the merits of the boy, and counted 
greatly on him to guard Snowflake from all malevolent 
attacks, and he had often wondered when he had made up 
his mind to administer a narcotic to the horse, how he 
could have evaded the jealous watchfulness of the boy ! 
Dick, however, did not like his new masters ; he hated Saint 
Senier, who treated him harshly, and he had other reasons 
for disliking Sartilly. An Englishman to the core, the boy 
did not think that these gentleman possessed the calm 
dignity of manner which is the distinguishing mark of an 
English nobleman, and therefore he regretted Lord Winter, 
whose orders he had obeyed in entering the service of the 
French gentlemen, and his most ardent wish was to return 
to England. Nor did he like Mowbridge much better 
although he was his countryman, and Sartilly who had 
noticed this, was not ill-pleased, for he thought that there was 
the less chance of their planning any scheme together. 

He found Dick rubbing down Snowflake who had just come 
in after a short gallop, and to make a favourable impression 
on the lad, he laid his hand familiarly on his shoulder, and 
said, " Well, my boy, what do you think of the colt ? " 

"Nothing," answered the boy in his native tongue, for 
though he understood French, he disliked to talk it. 

" Is he in good form 1 " asked Sartilly, without getting 
angry. 

" Perfect." 

" Then to-morrow he will win easily ? " 

" I don't know." 

" What, you don't know ; there isn't a horse in the race that 
can hold a candle to him." 

" That is true." 

" Well, what do you mean then ? " 

" If he is badly ridden, he will be beater " 

" Mowbridge rides better than anyone in England or 
France." 

" Yes, but Mowbridge is a bad lot." 

" What, a bad lot, do you say ? You mean he gets drunk. 
I don't care for that, so long as he is not drunk to-morrow, 
and he never drinks when he is going to ride. That is a 



Aii Unexpected Meeting 261 

known fact. I had it from Lord Winter, who assured me 
that he had never seen him take a drop when there was 
racing on." 

"He is a gambler, too," said Dick. 

" A gambler ? well, perhaps, but what of that, it is his own 
money that he loses." 

" He may play with yours some day." 

" I say, youngster, you just tell me what you mean, or I 
shall have to turn you away." 

" Just as you like." 

" You don't care then about staying in my service, at least 
it seems so ; well, I don't want to keep you ; so after the race 
I'll pay you your wages, but until then you will continue to 
look after the horse." 

" As you like, sir." 

" Why, it is a regular song. This evening you will sleep 
in the stable.'' 

" I should do so even if you were to forbid it." 
• " Indeed ; and why ? " 

" Because I am fond of my horse, and don't want anyone 
to harm him." 

" Do you think anyone would try to get at him if you did 
not keep your eyes open ?" 

" Perhaps." 

" Go to the devil with your short answers. You deserve 
that I should lay my cane across your shoulders." 

" Don't try that on ; for I expect I am the stronger of 
the two." 

Sartilly grew furious, and was about to carry his threat 
into execution, and goodness only knows how the scene 
would have ended, when M. and Mme. de Saint Senier 
appeared at the door of the stable. The Viscountess had got 
back in her husband's good graces by asking him to forgive 
her for the violent language she had used to Diana de 
Ganges at the horse show, and Saint Senier, satisfied with 
having brought her up sharp, had not held out long, and had 
been so tormented by her, that he had at last yielded to her 
solicitations to take her to the Madrid, so as to have a little 
peace. She came dressed in her loudest costume, and more 
than ever disposed to speak ill of her neighbour, Valentine ; 
but at the first word she said Saint Senier checked her so 
sharply that she changed her note, and went off into an 
ecstasy regarding the beauties of Snowflake, making most 
preposterous mistakes, as she knew nothing at all about 
horses, and Sartilly took advantage of this interruption to 
leave the place. He did not care about confiding to his 
partner the opinion which the free-spoken Dick had formed 



262 Fickle Heart 

about Mowbridge, but he promised to himself to give that 
young man, in the evening, the lesson which the entrance of 
the Viscount and Viscountess had interrupted. " You know 
that our horse is going up again fast in the betting," said 
Saint Senier to him, as he was taking leave. 

" I shall be present at Snowflake's victory," said Mme. de 
Saint Senier drawing herself up, as if such a piece of 
intelligence ought to have transported Gontran to the seventh 
heaven ; whereas he always fled from the woman as if she was 
an embodiment of the plague. " We shall meet on the course, 
I hope." 

" I shall be charmed, my dear Madame," answered Gontran, 
curtly, " and I regret that I must leave you so quickly ; but 
I am waited for, and the mare that I am driving is so timid 
that I do not care to delay until the roads are crowded. 
There might be an accident. 1 ' 

"Then, my dear fellow, you would do well to get off at 
once," said Saint Senier. 

" Don't go round by Auteuil," interposed his wife who 
could not keep her tongue quiet, " for Mile, de Ganges is 
always riding about the neighbourhood, and I suppose that 
you don't want to come across her. TheBoisis not safe since 
this stealer of hearts goes about it ; on my word, they ought 
to give notice to the police." 

Certainly the Viscountess was an incorrigible scandal- 
monger. Her husband had no desire to begin the scene at the 
horse show over again, but he cast so threatening a glance 
at her, that she at once became silent. 

Gontran, leaving his partner to continue if he wished the 
conversation with Dick, hurried to his carriage which was 
waiting for him near the Madrid. By her uncalled-for 
allusion Mine, de Saint Senier had only meant to gratify her 
spite against Diana de Ganges, but she never thought that 
by it, she would have aroused in Gontran's heart the 
recollection of days that had past. Overwhelmed as he had 
been by troubles of various descriptions, Gontran had almost 
forgotten his wife's former companion, but he had never 
renounced his project of conquering the obstinacy with which 
she had met his proposals. Now that he was separated from 
Valentine, he had no more outward show to maintain, and it 
flashed across his mind that it would be a nice little bit of 
revenge to carry off the woman with the auburn hair, and 
emerald eyes. He did not wish to make any pretence of 
running after her ; knowing by experience that women only 
cared for those who disdain, or at least effect to disdain them ; 
but he would have been glad of a chance meeting, and Mme. 
de Saint Senier had pointed out a method to him of doing so. 



An Unexpected Meeting 263 

The Bois de Boulogne at certain times is excessively con- 
venient for meetings, either in carriages, on horseback, or on 
foot, but it also has the disadvantage, owing to its winding 
roads, and thick clumps of trees and bushes, that persons 
may be close together, and yet never meet. 

Besides, entire credence could not be placed in Mme. de 
Saiut Senier's statements, and in this case in particular they 
had to be taken with some slight reservation. It was not at 
all certain that Mile, de Ganges rode about the neighbour- 
hood of Auteuil every day, and if it was so, it was not 
likely that she was unaccompanied. Her lover no doubt 
would be with her, and Sartilly had no wish to meet them 
together. He would have been delighted to have taken her 
as his mistress, and since the month of February he had more 
than once thought of using against Valentine the story, now 
grown rather stale, of the pursuit at night in the garden of 
his house, and to assert that he had surprised the young 
Creole in her chamber. 

He kept this weapon in reserve, as one only to be used as 
a last resource, for he felt that a quarrel with M. Cezambre, 
followed by a duel, would only complicate matters, for old 
Vacheron, if he were pushed much further, might destroy the 
agreement and drag the persecutor of his daughter before 
the tribunal of justice. 

As these thoughts passed through Gontran's mind, he 

ordered his coachman to drive round the Bois before returning 

home, not that he had any hopes of meeting Mile, de Ganges 

that day, but he liked to leave things to chance, and as he 

had plenty of time at his disposal before dining at his club, 

he determined to take a drive, having decided to return to 

the Madrid in the evening to look after his horse, and to 

take up the conversation with Dick, at the point where it 

had been broken off by the arrival of Saint Senier. Dick 

had given him something to think about, and Sartilly began 

to have his doubts of Mowbridge, so he determined to keep 

good watch that night, and on the racecourse to have a 

serious conversation with the suspected jockey. Whilst 

waiting for this, Sartilly could enjoy all the satisfaction that 

a man feels who has a hundred and twenty notes of a 

thousand francs each in his pocket, and there was no harm 

he thought in going in search of an adventure to pass away 

the time. His coachman turned down the Reine Marguerite 

road, so as to arrive at the Cascade by passing by the Pre' 

Catalan, so as to skirt the Longchamps course, and return to 

Paris by the road to the Fortifications. Gontran cared little 

which way he went, as he was in no hurry. His horse, which 

was very well bred, went at a slow trot, sometimes dwindling 



264 Fickle Heart 

into a walk, for the driver had served the Count long enough 
to guess what pleased him best. 

Gontran was smoking an excellent cigar, and allowed 
himself to fall into a reverie, contrary to his usual custom, 
for of all men he was the least given to day-dreams. But 
the air was so soft and sweet, the sky was so pure, that he 
felt a pleasure in life, and forgot the difficulties of the present 
in the golden future that was opening before him. It was 
indeed the happy hour of a guilty man, an hour which 
moralists pretend to believe does not exist, and yet which 
the most hardened criminals sometimes enjoy, those at least 
who never feel the sting of remorse. 

The Bois on the side where Gontran was, is but little 
frequented, and he only met a few cabs filled with citizens 
or country people, with every now and then a groom 
exercising a horse, a riding-master giving a lesson to a pupil, 
or a gentleman trying the paces of a hack that he had 
recently purchased. This solitude, and especially the absence 
of pretty women, finished by giving Sartilly the blues, and he 
was about to order his coachman to go to Paris when he saw 
a tall woman, mounted on a dark bay, come out of the Avenue 
of Saint Cloud. She was going at a walk, and was not 
sufficiently near for him to distinguish her features, but he 
could see at a glance that she had a splendid figure, and sat 
her horse well. In Paris, ladies who ride well are rare, and 
Sartilly, who was a connoisseur in such matters, saw that this 
was not a pupil fresh from the riding-school, or a reckless 
American girl, or a professional from the circus. She sat 
well, without any stiffness, and seemed as much at her ease 
in the saddle as though she had been seated in an armchair. 
Her features however could not be seen, as she wore a thick 
blue veil. "Ah, well," thought Sartilly, "she will raise it 
when she passes me. A pretty woman likes to be admired, 
and if she does not lift it, it is because she is ugly, and in that 
case I don't care about seeing her." In readiness however 
for every event, he assumed an attitude likely to attract the 
attention of the unknown who was about to cross in front of 
him, and had urged her bay into a long trot ; he half stood 
up in the carriage, and leaned out so much that it was 
impossible for the fair rider not to notice him ; she did so, 
but the effect was entirely contrary to what she had 
anticipated. Instead of raising her veil, she started back so 
violently and drew her reins so tightly, that her horse reared. 
She kept her seat admirably, and with much skill made her 
horse twist round on his hind legs, so as to put his head in 
the contrary direction to the Count's victoria, then giving 
him his head, touched him with the spur. Unfortunately she 



An Unexpected Meeting 265 

spured him a little too sharply, and the bay, unaccustomed to 
being so roughly treated,bolted away down the macadamised 
road. Gontran saw at once that she had lost all command 
of her horse, and thought that he might readily profit by the 
accident by giving her assistance, if her headlong course 
terminated in a fall. 

" Follow her," cried he to the coachman, " but don't get too 
close, or the noise of the wheels will make him go on like a 
railway train." This order was skilfully obeyed, and Sartilly 
standing up, was able to follow with his eyes the struggle be- 
tween a young lady, who had not the iron muscles of a jockey, 
and an almost thoroughbred horse of an unexceptional vigour. 
The lady did not appear for a moment to have lost her head. 
Still sitting firmly down in the saddle instead of wearing 
herself out by vain efforts to stop her horse by sawing his 
mouth, she contented herself by endeavouring to keep his 
head straight, knowing well that he would slacken his speed 
as he became fatigued. A sensible manoeuvre which had 
every chance of success as the road was wide, and there were 
no obstacles in it. Unfortunately in one spot the road was 
being repaired, and a heap of stones at the side of it alarmed 
the animal. He shied violently into the bushes that fringed 
the road. " Ah," muttered Gontran between his teeth, who 
had no pity for an accident caused by awkwardness, "I 
should have thought that she would have known better. She 
ought to have foreseen that he would have started at that 
heap of stones, and kept his head straight." 

His indifference, however, did not go so far as to pass by 
without endeavouring to discover what had become of the 
veiled rider. He ordered his coachman to stop, and got out 
of his carriage, more excited by curiosity than by a desire to 
assist the victim of an accident, to which he had greatly con- 
tributed by startling the lady by leaning out of his carriage. 
He entered the tangle and found her lying with her face on 
the ground and apparently senseless. The bay had also 
fallen, having tripped over a stump and pitched on his 
head ; but had recovered himself, and stood by her, snorting 
and trembling in every limb, as always happens to a horse 
that has thrown his rider. Gontran bent down, and raising 
her up recognised the features of Diana de Ganges. Her 
face was covered with blood which flowed from a wound in 
her forehead, and she did not manifest the slightest sign of 
life. Her head had struck against the trunk of a tree, and 
her skull might be fractured, but her heart still beat, as ' 
Gontran assured himself by putting his hand on her breast. 
Another man would have dispatched his coachman for help, 
but Sartilly contented himself with summoning him to assist 



266 FicJcle Heart 

in lifting the inanimate body into his carriage, for the first 
idea that had entered into his head was to take advantage 
of the accident to secure the woman of whom he had been 
thinking so much, and to play a trick on his detested rival. 
Diana had been quite alone. She had left at the villa the 
faithful Domingo who habitually escorted her in her rides. 
What risk did Sartilly run in carrying her off 1 Not the 
slightest. The road was a solitary one. No one had wit- 
nessed the accident, and Sartilly could say to himself, "Two 
things will happen : either she will die in my house after 
having received all proper attention, or else she will get 
well there, and cannot fail to be grateful to me for having 
saved her life, for she will easily understand that it was not 
my business to take her home to her lover, who is my 
avowed enemy." This was sound reasoning, and he lost no 
time in carrying out his plan. The coachman had recognised 
the ex-companion of the Countess, and thought it natural 
enough that the Count should take her back to the house. 
The first thing to arrange was how to convey the injured 
woman, who was speechless and motionless, in an open 
victoria through the Bois without attracting a great deal of 
attention, but the coachman easily settled this by producing 
from a locker below his box a quantity of rugs and horse- 
cloths, destined to be thrown over the mare when waiting 
anywhere after a long drive. He enveloped Mile, de 
Ganges in these from head to foot, and assisted the Count to 
carry her to tlie carriage where he placed her like a large 
parcel, not lying down, but seated on the cushions, leaving 
room for the Count by her side so that her head might rest 
on his shoulder. The bay horse was still there ; he had not 
moved since he had thrown Diana over his head. Sartilly 
took him by the bridle and, putting his head in the 
direction of Auteuil and giving him a cut behind, started 
him off, muttering, " He will easily find his way home, and 
handsome Cezanibre will pass an uncomfortable time when 
he finds him coming home without his mistress." Sartilly 
jumped into his victoria and sat down in such a manner as 
to support the injured woman who was completely concealed 
by the coverings in which she had been enveloped, and ordered 
his man to drive fast, avoiding the more frequented roads. 
The custom-house officials at the barrier seldom examine the 
private conveyances which return from the Bois, and they 
did not ask Sartilly to undo the packet that stood by his side 
in the victoria. On reaching home he told the porter to 
send up his wife, as she was the only servant of the female 
sex in the house, for he felt the necessity of keeping up ap- 
pearances, and that it would never do to put Mile, de Ganges 



Aii Unexpected Meeting 267 

to bed himself. Then lie had her carried to the rooms which 
she had formerly occupied when she was the companion of 
the Countess. There was much excitement in the house 
when the servants saw the coachman carrying in, the in- 
sensible form of Diana, but no one put any questions or 
asked for any information on the subject. From the com- 
mencement the Count had drilled his domestics into serving 
him silently, and never taking any notice of what they might 
see or hear. 

The injured woman was laid upon the bed that she had 
formerly occupied, and left alone with the porter's wife, 
whilst Gontran sent one of the footmen for his own doctor 
who lived close by in the Rue de Dome, a small street little 
known but highly respectable, which runs from the Avenue 
d'Eylau to the Rue Lauriston, and until his arrival he walked 
about the garden. Gontran had no regrets for the manner 
in which he had acted, although he had reflected deeply on 
its possible consequences, and was not at all alarmed at the 
prospect of any complications arising from sheltering in his 
house his wife's old friend ; he only looked at the possible 
advantages accruing therefrom. He thought, " What do I 
care if M. Vacheron and his daughter learn that Diana is 
here ? They will not take advantage of that to make a scandal, 
unless, indeed, Valentine's jealousy should be aroused, and 
then I can play a fine card by dismissing her rival. Then, 
again, if that happens, I shall score by having created a cool- 
ness between Diana and her lover, who will never believe 
that she came here except of her own free will. If I do 
not leave for England by the next week her lot will be 
decided, for wounds in the head, if they are not mortal, heal 
rapidly. If she recovers, I shall not have much trouble in 
persuading'her to follow me, for she will be so compromised 
as regards George, that she can never go back to him again ; 
at any rate I shall have broken off the alliance between my 
wife and her." Whilst Sartilly with odious cynicism was 
congratulating himself on his bad action and his worse 
intentions, the doctor arrived. 

This doctor, whose name was Pontier, was a skilful and a 
very worthy man, whose only fault was that he was too 
modest. He did not know how to get up his name as many 
of his fraternity do by paying for puffs in the newspapers, 
but for all that he had a very good practice in a wealthy 
part of the town. Though Gontran cared little for his 
character, he had the utmost confidence in his science and 
straight-forwardness. The Countess, too, liked him very 
much. Pontier was aware that she had left her house 
suddenly, but being discreet by nature, he had made no 



26 8 Fickle Heart 

inquiry into the matter, nor did he ask Sartilly how Mile, 
de Ganges had met with her accident, but simply begged to 
see the sufferer, and Gontran took him to her room. 

He found thafthe porter's wife had put her to bed, and 
had washed away the blood from her face, but had been 
unable to bring her back to consciousness. Pale as death, 
and hardly seeming to breathe, the beautiful Diana lay on 
her back, her exquisite hair forming a halo around her waxen 
features, whilst her eyes had no expression in them. Even 
Sartilly had Some feelings of regret at seeing her state, for 
he began to fear that she would never recover her senses. 
The doctor made a close examination of her, and at last spoke 
in terms that were not very re-assuring. " The skull is not 
fractured, but the shoek has been so severe that it may result 
in concussion of the brain. This state of coma may continue 
for several hours, perhaps even days. We must make use 
of the strongest possible remedies, and she must have the 
most constant care. I will send you a nurse accustomed to 
the care of the sick, and I will stay here to-night. She must 
have the most absolute quiet, and I must beg you, my dear 
Count, not to remain near her, for when she recovers conscious- 
ness, you will be unable to prevent yourself from talking to 
her, and that may throw her into a state of mind which I 
desire to avoid." 

Sartilly had no wish to watch by the bedside of a sick 
person ; he was not of the stuff of which hospital nurses are 
made, so he willingly promised to be contented with news 
of the state of Mile, de Ganges, of whom he spoke with all due 
respect. The doctor wrote a long prescription, and announced 
that he would return again in an hour, and Sartilly, on re- 
conducting him to the door, told him that his wife's former 
companion had fallen from her horse in the Bois de Boulogne, 
and that as he happened to be on the spot when it occurred, 
he had had her removed to his house, not knowing where she 
lived. 

M. Pontier did not ask any 'questions, and went off believing 
that the story was partially true, but that there was some- 
thing hidden in the background, into which he had no desire 
to penetrate. He was a doctor, and nothing but a doctor, 
and only looked after bodily ills ; those of the heart were out 
of his province. Sartilly was not the stamp of man to waste 
his time over an unhappy woman in danger of death. The 
doctor had forbidden him to enter Diana's room, but there 
was nothing to prevent his remaining in the house and seeing 
that everything was done for her, but this he never thought 
of doing. He called his servants together and gave the order 
that no one was to be admitted into the house except the 



A %m of Luck 269 

doctor and the nurse. Francis was ordered to see that his 
master's instructions were properly carried out, and in this 
Gontran made a bad choice, for the valet was more than ever 
infatuated with Lisa, and she knew how to make him tell 
everything. The Count, however, had perfect faith in him. 
At one time Sartilly had thought of sending for Florence, 
whom he had sent away the morning after the Countess had 
left. She was most perfectly trustworthy and incapable of 
joining in a plot with any of the other servants, who all 
detested her. But Florence was the holder of a secret of 
which she might make a bad use, although it was her interest 
to keep it, and Sartilly, who had hidden her away in a safe 
place of retirement, preferred to leave her there, from the 
feeling that it is never well to trust too much to a bad 
woman, even though she may be your accomplice. 



CHAPTER XXX 

A RUN OF LUCK 

Sartilly just now felt in need of a little rest after so excit- 
ing a day, and he had nothing to do until midnight, when he 
had made up his mind to return to the Madrid Restaurant, 
and to remain there until the next morning. He intended 
before going, however, to return home, and enquire after the 
health of Mile, de Ganges, and in case she was sufficiently 
recovered to write, to give strict instructions to his people to 
prevent her sending any communication to her lover. He 
wished to gain a respite of twenty-four hours, and not to see 
her again until after Snowflake's victory, which would free 
him from one of his most poignant anxieties. It was his last 
stake that he was about to play on Sunday at Longchamps, and 
on the Monday only, would he know whether he was to submit 
to the conditions which his father-in-kvw had dictated ; or 
fortified by his heavy winnings on the race, be enabled to 
resist M. Vacheron, who wanted to starve him into sub- 
mission. What was he to do with himself on Saturday even- 
ing. He might go to the Circus in the Champs Elysees, 
where, according to custom, the sporting men were in the 
habit of meeting the evening before the Grand Prix was run 
for. In former days French and English used to meet together 
beneath the zinc palm trees of Mabilleand exchange greetings, 
and sometimes blows, but Mabille, which survived three or 
four governments, has disappeared for some years. Besides, 



270 F telle Heart 

he did not much care to meet people who could only talk to 
him about the chances of his horse, so he went to dine at a 
restaurant where he was not very likely to encounter any of his 
friends ; and after smoking several cigars, at about ten o'clock 
he decided to turn into his club, where he thought he should 
not tind any one to bore him. No doubt, however, it was written 
that he should not find the calm and solitude that his soul 
longed for. For no sooner did he enter, than he came across 
Alfred de Mussidan, who had just driven up from the 
station, and who brought news of the horses that were in 
training at Chantilly, with which he plentifully regaled his 
friend Gontran, who was not the least intei'ested. It was 
necessary for him, however, to listen and to reply, for Mussi- 
dan could not fail shortly to touch upon the morrow's race 
and Snowflake's chances, on whom he had put a great deal of 
money. He had also picked up at Chantilly some vague 
rumours as to the favourite's health and the behaviour of the 
jockey, which had made him a little uneasy. It was as well 
to re-assure him on these points, and Sartilly did the best he 
could to persuade him that the victory of his horse was a 
matter of certainty. But Mussidan amongst other faults 
was excessively prolix, and the conversation threatened to be 
an endless one. In order to rid himself of this bore, Gontran 
thought of saying that he was going to play whist. 

"No chance of that, dear boy,'' answered Mussidan. 
" Everyone is in the E.ed Room, where there is the finest 
game of baccarat going on that you have ever seen." 

" What, at this hour ? " cried Gontran. 

" Yes, I can understand your being surprised, for it seldom 
begins before midnight, and for some time past the game has 
nearly died a natural death. The players did nothing but 
lose, and got disheartened. You should know that, for you 
walked into them yesterday " 

" Oh ! I only carried off a few hundred iouis, and it seems 
that that hasn't made them give up baccarat, since they have 
started it again, as soon almost as they have dined." 

" By Jove, yes, and it is your partner who began it." 

" What ! Saint Senier. Did he dine here ? " 

" Yes, with a young fellow that he introduced to the club, 
and who wasn't black-balled because no one knew anything 
about him ; but I must in justice say that I don't think that 
there was anything against him." 

" Quite a young man — a Creole 1 " 

" Yes, I believe he does come from some colony or other. 
He is quite a green-horn, and has never set foot in Paris 
before. Saint Senier is showing him about, and Madame, 
they say, is going to take charge of his education. He is a 



A Run of Luck 271 

■Wonderful chap that Saint Senier ! if he was not so rich, one 
would say that his wife fees him for introducing good-looking 
young fellows to her." 

Gontran at once understood how it came that Diana was 
on that day riding alone in the Bois. Her lover had 
promised to dine with Saint Senier at the club and had prob- 
ably passed his afternoon in Paris, and had most likely after 
dinner returned to the villa, and been both surprised and 
vexed at not finding Diana there ; then with a bitter smile 
he thought, " He is hunting for her now, unless indeed he is 
sitting alone in the house gnawing his fingers with rage and 
jealousy. Well, let him wait. She won't come back. And 
this is the beginning of my revenge upon this squire of dames. 
Decidedly everything is going as I could wish." 

"Besides," continued Mussidan, "the club has made an 
acquisition in the shape of this youth ; report says that he is 
very rich and he plays heavily, so that he may console some 
of the losers, and there are those who -have great need 
of it, for they are pretty well drained dry." 

" Unless he completely finishes them. We must see to that.'' 

" You can do so at once, for he has the bank now." 

"What, has he remained here ?" exclaimed Sartilly, much 
surprised. 

"Certainly, and he doesn't seem at all inclined to move. 
He is winning all round." 

For an instant Sartilly was silent, then a bright idea 
flashed across him, " I am in luck too," thought he, " and 
nothing would please me better than to win some of this 
green-horn's money ; so that after having won his money, and 
carried away his mistress, my revenge would be complete." 

" He is only at his second deal," added Mussidan, " and 
has already more than fifteen hundred louis before him. But 
the fun of the whole thing is that Saint Senier is dropping 
his money. The husband cleaned out by the lover, that is a 
good joke, but you must pay to see it, dear boy." 

" And so I will. Let us go into the Red Room. I may 
bring my partner better luck." 

" He will want all his luck to-morrow at Longchamps," said 
Mussidan, who was always thinking of the money he had on 
Snownake. 

Sartilly looked at the clock : he had still an hour to spare 
before he had to leave to look after the injured woman and 
his horse, and it would not take so long as that to break 
George's hitherto victorious bank. He therefore followed 
his friend into the card-room. No one paid any attention 
to them. The players looked at nothing but the cards, and 
a thunderbolt might have fallen on the table without put- 



272 Pickle Beart 

ting them to flight. There they were, about twenty of 
them ; some sitting down, others standing up, staking their 
money obstinately ; as silent as priests, and as grave as augurs. 
The game was too serious to allow any one to jest, or even to 
speak. All that was heard was an exclamation when any 
wonderful point was scored. The one who was the least 
excited of the lot was George Cezambre ; it was a strange 
picture to gaze on, this mere boy of twenty dealing the cards 
with the carelessness of the Creole, and to see him smile when 
he lost, which however did not often occur. His coolness 
and his air of indifference exasperated the veteran punters, 
who had taken him for an easy prey but discovered that 
they had found their master. Saint Senier was a curious 
sight to the observer. He could not understand seeing his 
stakes of five hundred francs continually being raked in, and 
swelling the heap of coin and notes spread out before his 
young friend the banker. He moved from one side of the 
bank to the other, sometimes staking on the right and some- 
times on the left, but always losing, for his customary good 
luck seemed to have deserted him. The lookers-on began 
to believe that his wife was leading a reformed life, but the 
Count knew better, and began to regret having proposed 
George as a member of the club. 

Sartilly prepared to take part in the performance. His 
pockets were filled with notes, which he had omitted to lock 
up during the short time that he remained in his own house, 
and he did not care to exchange any of them for counters 
with the cashier of the club, as that might have necessitated 
his re-converting them into specie on his departure. He 
wanted to be at perfect liberty to play a bold game, and not 
to prolong the sitting. 

" Five hundred louis," exclaimed he, throwing down the 
bank-notes on the table. Gontran had spoken so loudly in 
calling his stake that many of the punters turned round, 
and congratulated themselves on their new ally ; for Sartilly 
had the reputation of being a fortunate player, and the 
chances might turn in their favour if they had him amongst 
them. 

His voice rang out full of hatred and bitterness, and 
made George Cezambre raise his head, and perceive this 
new adversary seated between the short-tempered Colonel 
Tarsac, and a worthy gentleman from Angers, who was 
playing his maiden game of baccarat. The two opponents 
scowled at each other, but George continued to deal the 
cards without showing any other sign of concern. He 
turned up nine, and a storm of curses arose from all sides. 
Saint Senier, who lost a thousand francs on the left, at the 



A Bun of Luck 273 

aanie time that Gontran dropped his ten thousand on the 
right, cried out in despair to his partner on the other side 
of the table : 

" Faith, my dear fellow, if you have more money about 
you than you know what to do with, you have come to the right 
place, for no one does anything but lose at this infernal game." 

The Colonel raged and swore like a heathen, and the gen- 
tleman from Angers began to wonder whether the money 
that he had brought up for a two months' sojourn in Paris 
was not going to melt away between his fingers before the 
rise of another sun. 

George gathered his gains together, without the slightest 
sign of triumph. Calm as a veteran gambler who is neither 
excited by good or bad fortune, he waited with a smile on 
his lips for his opponents to stake, but, the discouraged 
punters were in no hurry to lay down their money. 

Even Saint Senier hesitated. Irritated at the coolness of 
Mile, de Ganges' lover, and feeling that all the players 
were watching him, as soldiers awaiting the signal for 
attack, Sartilly threw another packet of notes on the table, 
which had the same fate as its predecessor. This time, 
however, the gain of the bank was not so complete, and was 
more vigorously disputed. The players on the left had eight, 
and Saint Senier who had not staked, ground his teeth. 
Those on the right had seven, and naturally stood on it. 
George had six, but he took a card without hesitation, and 
turned up a three, which made the conquering nine. This 
was enough to disgust anyone with striving against a man 
who possessed such extraordinary luck ; and some even 
ventured to suspect his fair play, though they did not dare 
to give their thoughts words. The game continued, and 
Sartilly again risked a stake of five hundred louis, which 
rather surprised the lookers-on, for everyone knew that he 
had been in great straits lately, and had not heard that he 
had since had a stroke of luck. 

" He is going to put on again," sighed Saint Senier, 
thinking of the future of their partnership. 

George C&ambre, calm and impassible as ever, was drawing 
a card from the pack, when one of the waiters brought him 
a letter on a silver salver. George took it, but out of 
courtesy placed it by his side without reading it. 

" Is that a fetish ? " asked one of the discontented losers. 

" Read it," exclaimed Saint Senier, " you can deal after- 
wards." Vexed at the uncivil remark which he had caught, 
George complied with Saint Senier's request. He opened 
the letter, read the contents at a glance, and laid down the 
pack, which he held in his hand. 

X 



274 Fickle Heart 

" You must excuse me, gentlemen," said he, preparing to 
rise, "but I must leave at once." 

A confused noise of cursing and expostulation arose. 

" You have no right to do so, the deal has commenced." 

"It is a nice thing to bolt after having won all our 

money." George hardly seemed to understand, but he did 

not appear disposed to obey such requests couched in such 

discourteous language. 

" Gentlemen," said Saint Senier, who was a recognised 
authority in baccarat, " a banker has always the right to 
leave off when he has had enough, but he must complete any 
deal that has been commenced, and this is the case at 
present, as the money has been staked." 

" Yery good," replied George, glad by any means to 
shorten a discussion which delayed his departure. He 
dealt, turned up his cards, and displayed a five of spades 
and a four of hearts, making the nine points, and after 
having seen that both the right and left sides had bac, he 
rose from the table. 

" I have complied with the rules," said he in a loud voice, 
" and now I am going ; any one who has any complaint to 
make can easily find me." 

" You are forgetting your money," exclaimed Saint 
Senier. 

Without another word, George picked up the gold, the 
notes, and the counters, and thrusting them into his pocket 
anyhow, left the Eed Room. No one had taken up the gage 
that he had thrown down, but as soon as he had gone, 
ill-natured remarks began to fly about. 

" One is never too old to learn," remarked the Colonel, 
" and this is a tiling that I have not seen before." 

"A little dodge," remarked another, "is very simple and 
easy of performance. You give a hint to a friend, who 
sends you a letter just at the right moment. When you get 
it you pull a long face as if your father had just died, and 
make off with your winnings." 

" Yes, it does away with the necessity for giving losers 
their revenge." 

" Gentlemen," remarked Saint Senier, gravely, " as 
M. Cezambre's proposer, I think that I ought to protest 
against this unfair interpretation of his conduct." 

" A fine present you have made to us in getting him 
elected." 

" I repeat that he is incapable of acting a part for the sake 
of obtaining a pretext to leave off playing. Remember that 
it would be impossible for him to know that he would be so 
large a winner at the moment he received the letter." 



A Bun of Luck 275 

" How can you tell ? He perhaps knew that he should win. 
I confess that I distrust a man who deals himself a six on 
which anyone would stand, and then a three, when there 
were five chances to one against him." 

'"Then," asked Saint Senier, sharply, to the last speaker, 
" you accuse M. Cezambre of cheating r i " 

" No," answered several voices. 

"I warn those who accuse him, that they must first settle 
the matter with me. For, as his proposer, I consider myself 
responsible for the acts of this young man ; and afterwards 
with him, for he himself said that he was ready to account 
for his actions to anyone." 

This declaration produced a dead silence, and Saint Senier 
continued : " It is very disagreeable to lose one's money, but 
we ought to be able to do so without complaining over it. 
M. Cezambre has won three hundred and fifty louis of me, 
and I look on it as mere chance ; and if you would only keep 
cool, you would think as I do, that he has most likely received 
some distressing news, bad news, which he had certainly not 
looked for." 

" Where from ? From Mauritius, eh ? " sneered one of 
the angry losers. 

" Ask him yourself, and oblige me by changing the con- 
versation," answered Saint Senier, angrily. 

There was one present who, had he liked, could have solved 
the whole mystery at once ; for Sartilly had no difficulty in 
guessing that the letter received "By George had come from 
Auteuil, and informed the poor boy that Mile, de Ganges, 
who had gone out shortly after noon, had not returned at 
eleven o'clock at night ; perhaps even the letter said that the 
bay horse had come back to the stable alone, and that some 
mishap must have befallen Diana who had been riding him. 
As Sartilly thought that this news must have driven his rival 
to despair, he almost consoled himself for having lost to him 
fifteen hundred louis, in the space of a few minutes. This 
loss however had made a large breach in his finances, since 
out of the two hundred thousand francs which he had received 
from Vacheron, there now only remained ninety thousand. 
But instead of taking this as a warning that Fortune was 
turning her back on him, Gontran's only thought was to 
recoup himself. " Come, do not let it be said that play shall 
cease because one gentleman has left us," cried one of the 
most inveterate gamblers. 

" Who will bid for the bank 1 "cried several others. 

" I will make one of a thousand louis," answered Sartilly. 

No one disputed it with him. Alfred de Mussidan was 
very rich, but he was not a gambler, and there was hardly 



276 Fickle Heart 

anyone but Saint Senier who played deeply, and he had 
resolved not to stake for fear of contributing to his partners 
ruin. Sartilly therefore had to contend against a number of 
men who played for small stakes such as fifteen louis, rather 
different from the heavier betting of ten thousand francs 
which had just been going in at the table. From the very 
beginning fortune declared against the banker. When 
George Cezambre quitted his seat he had taken the luck 
away with him. The combat was a long one, and Saint 
Senier, heart-broken, did not await its conclusion, but crept 
away quietly at about two in the morning, dreading that his 
partner should smash up financially, and much pre-occupied 
with the doings of the morrow. Sartilly kept up the struggle 
imtil he left his last bank note on the table ; and as the day 
began to break he left the field from want of ammunition. 
Tempted by the Demon of Play, Sartilly had forgotten every- 
thing ; Diana perhaps at her last gasp, and Snowflake 
abandoned to the custody of a lad, who was not too well dis- 
posed towards his employers ; Snowflake who was the last 
hope that he had of retrieving his broken fortunes. 

When the thrice guilty husband of Valentine left the club, 
and took a cab to drive to the Madrid, as he passed the 
Avenue d'Eylau, a cold shiver passed through his frame, aj 
though Death was near him. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

LOST ! 

Hatred is very clear-sighted, and Ciontran had guessed 
rightly. The letter which George Cezambre had received 
did come from Auteuil, and told him that Diana had not yet 
returned home. The lirst thought which came to this young 
and faithful lover was that Diana had left him for another. 
Diana had proved her love to him, and for the three months 
that they had been together, had conducted herself as the 
best and truest of wives, yet now on the very first occasion he 
became suspicious of her. No one is perfect, and jealousy 
does not stay to reason. George found his carriage in charge 
of his faithful Domingo at the door of the club. The honest 
black had got down from the box, and was talking to Lisa on 
the pavement. It was a case of who should speak first, with 
both, man and maid, but Domingo was not much of a talker, 



Lost ! 277 

and so Lisa gained the day. That morning the lovers had 
arranged that George should pass the day in Paris, as he had 
business with the upholsterer, who was furnishing some 
rooms which they had taken, and also to see his banker who 
had received money for him from his guardian ; and he had 
also accepted Saint Senier's invitation to dinner, so Diana 
had agreed not to expect him home until late, and had begged 
hiui not to hurry himself. Lisa told him after his departiue 
that her mistress had dressed herself for riding, had had the 
bay horse saddled, and had gone out alone saying that she 
would return at five o'clock. At six, however, they began to 
be astonished at not seeing her, as she was always mo3t 
punctual in her habits. At seven, Domingo had set out on a 
voyage of discovery, but could glean no intelligence, except 
that the custom-house officers at the barrier had seen a lady 
pass whose appearance corresponded with that of Mile, de 
Ganges. Domingo had wandered about the numerous roads 
without success, and as the night was coming on had been 
compelled to return in a state of intense depression to the 
villa. He and Lisa had taken counsel together. What was 
to be done % Domingo wanted to go at once to Paris and tell 
his master all, but in this Lisa did not concur. A woman, 
and especially a Parisian woman, can see rather more clearly 
than a negro newly-arrived from an island in the Indian 
Ocean. Lisa feared many things ; not that she believed that 
her mistress was deceiving her lover, but that it was very likely 
that she had some secrets even from George, and that as he 
would not be likely to return until midnight she might feel 
at liberty to make what use of the day she liked. She might 
have gone to dine somewhere, and would perhaps not be back 
until nine or ten o'clock, but that was a matter of small 
importance, as long as she should be back before George's 
return. She therefore persuaded Domingo not to warn his 
master, and sat herself down to supper with a good appetite. 
Domingo however was not so easily satisfied, and began to 
believe that some accident had happened. He now re- 
membered that the bay horse which had not been out the 
day before, had shown a disposition to bolt ; he had stamped 
and champed his bit, whilst the negro was getting him ready, 
and when in the saddle Diana had some difficulty in holding 
him in. She was a good rider for a woman, but the horse 
required a man's hand to control him on certain occasions. 
Whilst Domingo's mind ran on his mistress having met with 
an accident, Lisa's imagination moved in a totally different 
direction. She thought a lover, after all, is not a husband, 
and that however much Diana might have loved George at 
the commencement, a change might have come over her now, 



278 Fickle Heart 

or that she might have gone out to amuse herself as George 
was enjoying himself at the club. But when eleven o'clock 
struck Domingo would no longer be restrained. He declared 
that his master would never forgive him for not having 
warned him before, and that he should at once take the 
train to Paris ; but Lisa persuaded him to harness the other 
horse and drive direct to the club, which would save much 
time, as it was some way from the Saint Lazare Station. 
She then wrote the letter which was to be given to the porter 
of the club, and getting into the carriage, Domingo drove off 
at a rapid rate. 

George lost no time in returning home, where he had still 
a faint hope of finding Diana, as he saw a light in the bed- 
chamber ; but Lisa dispelled this allusion by telling him that 
she herself had left the lamp alight, as she did every evening, 
and he had not the heart to go up to the empty room. " Even 
the horse has not come back," muttered he. This was exactly 
what made Lisa believe that Mile, de Ganges had not met 
with an accident. " Master," interposed Domingo, " that is 
not very surprising ; he has only been a short time in these 
stables and if an accident has happened far from here, he 
would not be likely to find his way back." 

" You think then that an accident has occurred 1 " asked 
George, sadly. 

" I much fear so, Master. The horse was in a bad temper 
when I saddled him, and may have ran away. I warned 
Mademoiselle, but she would not listen to me." 

'' You say that she was seen entering the Bois by the 
Auteuil Gate 1 " 

" Yes, Master, and she took the road to Boulogne. The 
custom-house officer said so. One of them asserted that he 
saw her turn to the right, down the wide avenue that leads 
to the lakes." 

" The Avenue Saint Cloud r { Yes, that was the ride that 
she preferred, she has often told me so ; well, I will go by 
that road, and I shall find her." 

" What, master," exclaimed Domingo. " Will you " 

" I will find her dead or alive." 

" In such a vast space ? " 

" I will search it from end to end." 

" But the night is very dark." 

" I will take a lantern, and we will search with it until it 
grows light." 

Whilst this conversation was going on Domingo was un- 
harnessing the horse, and Lisa was standing by listening to 
what was said. " And when it is light we will make en. 
quiries ; there are park-keepers about,'' 



Lost ! 279 

" If these people had seen the accident, they would have 
helped her, and brought her back here." 

" Unless she was killed on the spot," said George, bitterly. 

" Sometimes, Mademoiselle rode long distances, as far even 
as Bagatelle," hinted the maid, " and there are houses about 
there, not private houses, but restaurants, the Cascade, the 
Madrid, so that if anything had happened they might know 
about it in these places, for there are plenty of people about 
there in the racing season ; grooms, betting men, jockeys." 

" That is true, and we needn't wait until to-morrow to ask 
for information." 

" But now these places are closed, and the waiters asleep." 

" We will wake them up. Look sharp, Domingo." 

" And me, will you not take me with you 1 " asked Lisa. 

" No, Lisa, you will remain here." 

" Perhaps that will be the best, in case Mademoiselle 
should come back." 

" Come back ! Where could she have gone to, and what 
can she have been doing since she left here ?" 

Lisa already regretted having said so much, for an imprudent 
word let slip might give George Cezambre's thoughts a totally 
different direction. " No," said he shaking his head. " She 
will not come back. You need not wait up for her — you had 
better go to bed." 

" Oh, sir, it would not be worth while. I could not sleep 
a wink, I am too uneasy about my mistress. I shall lock 
myself up in my room, for I am afraid of being here alone ; 
and even then I shall be frightened, for ever since the 
woman was murdered here, I have always been nervous. 
You will find me up when you come back." 

The recollection of the former tragedy which had taken 
place in the house added to George's feelings of depression. 

" They said that this house would be unlucky," murmured 
he, "but she would take it. Heaven only knows if she will 
ever come back to it alive." Then after a long silence which 
Lisa did not dare to interrupt, he asked abruptly : 

" Why were you so long in letting me know this 1 " 

The question was an embarrassing one, but Lisa got over 
it by saying that she did not wish to alarm her master, and 
that she was in momentary expectation of seeing Mile, de 
Ganges come back. At that moment Domingo returned from 
the stable with the lantern, and Lisa re-entering the villa 
shut herself up to await her master's return. 

" Go on in front," said George to Domingo, who obeyed 
him as a soldier obeys the orders of his superior, even though 
he may disapprove of the step that he is taking. 

George followed behind, and they passed through .the 



280 Fickle Heart 

"Villa Montmorency where the gas is alight all night as in 
the streets of Auteuil. Having once passed through the gate 
of the Bois de Boulogne, they began to walk down the main 
road which led to Boulogne. After a certain hour all traffic 
ceases in this wide thoroughfare except in the boating and 
picnic seasons. The suburban omnibusses run up to midnight, 
but the last had passed some time before, and the drinking- 
shops at the side of the road had all their shutters securely 
closed. The master and man did not meet a single foot- 
passenger in their walk. At last they came to a spot where 
several paths diverged. One of these according to the sign- 
post led to the open space which separates the lakes. With- 
out hesitation, and guided by the instincts of a lover, George 
turned down it. The night was not very dark, for the moon 
which was in her last quarter had risen, but the weather 
threatened to turn out rainy, and the sky was covered with 
thick black clouds, which the west wind drove hither and 
thither, every now and then completely hiding the stars. 
The boughs of the trees creaked and groaned as the wind 
swvpt through them ; and the rustling of the leaves resembled 
the sad murmur of the waves when the land-breeze begins to 
blow. Domingo who had at first gone boldly to the front, 
now fell back and kept close to his young master, and showed 
s'gns of uneasiness. They were walking by the side of the 
road close to the ditch, and Domingo was holding the lantern 
so as to give as much light as possible. " Master," said he 
timidly, after having walked for twenty minutes in perfect 
silence, "if we continue to go on without knowing where we 
are going, we shall end by losing ourselves." 

"We must arrive somewhere. Are you afraid?'' asked 
George. 

" No, master, and even if I was afraid, I wouldn't leave 
you — but we find nothing here — and it is not good to be out at 
night. The papers say that the Bois is full of bad characters." 

" If they attack us we will defend ourselves. I have a 
revolver in my pocket." 

This was quite true, for George always carried one about 
him, and to-night he had a large sum in notes and gold which 
might have been a tempting bait to nocturnal prowlers had 
they but foreseen that so rich a prey would pass within 
their reach. But no one had given them notice of this booty, 
and these gentlemen usually prefer to do their business in 
the neighbourhood of the fortifications. 

" Oh, I would fight," answered the negro, boastfully, " and 
J have a good pair of fists too ; but should we not do better 
to go and enquire for Mademoiselle, at the houses that Lisa 
snoke of } " 



Lost ! 281 

" They are not this side of the Bois," answered George, 
who had begun to know it very well from having often 
driven through it with Diana, " but there are some close to 
the Madrid, and if we continue in this direction we shall 
reach them." All the time that George had been walking his 
head had been filled with strange and varied ideas, and he 
frequently asked himself if the woman that he was searching 
for in the Bois was not after all in Paris, and whether her 
departure from the villa had not been a flight. Diana was 
self-willed, and hot-tempered, and that very morning they 
had had a slight difference regarding Mme. de Saint Senier ; 
a difference that had speedily been followed by a tender 
reconciliation. But for all that she might have cherished an 
angry feeling against him, and acted suddenly on impulse. 

Nor was it impossible that she might have received an 
anonymous letter from Mme. de Saint Senier, who was 
quite capable of writing one, or from some enemy, for George 
had already some that he knew, and some doubtless that he 
did not. He struggled hard against these troublesome ideas, 
and ended at last by driving them away. Then uneasiness 
and dread again took hold of him, and he resolved to pursue 
his search though with but faint hopes of success. Domingo 
now kept silence ; he had made up his mind and walked on 
steadily with an eye that kept a vigilant watch, and an ear 
that listened to every sound. All at once he stopped short, 
andholdingout thelantern tothefull length of his arm, pointed 
out to George an object which was floating in the air, like a 
banner, fastened to the branch of a tree some feet from the 
ground. " Look there, master," whispered he. 

" What — what is that 1 " asked George. 

" A veil, master, a veil like the one Mademoiselle wears 
when she puts on a man's hat to ride on horseback." 

George leapt lightly over the ditch, and drew from its 
resting-place a blue gauze veil. " It is hers," cried he. 

" So it is," answered Domingo, examining it by the light of 
his lantern. "I recognise it at once, for when she was 
mounting, Lisa was not there, and Mademoiselle asked me to 
tie a knot in it, as it was not firmly fastened to her hat. 
Probably I did not do it right and the wind has carried it 
away." 

"No," muttered George Oezambre, " it has been violently 
torn away by that briar." For a long time after exchanging 
these words, master and man remained silent, each racking 
their brains to understand how the veil could have come to 
the place where they had found it. It was evident that 
Mile, de Ganges had passed that way, and it would appear 
that she had been in the thicket ; but why should she have 



282 Fickle Heart 

done so, for it was full of undergrowth, and difficult to move 
about in, even on foot ? There could be no reason for her 
coming into it at all. Was it likely either that people 
laying in ambush had torn her from her horse and dragged 
her into the thicket to rob, and perhaps murder her ? George 
asked himself this question, but it seemed so strange and 
improbable that he did not retain the idea for a moment. 

The Bois de Boulogue has not yet become a resort for 
cut-throats as the Forest of Bondy used to be, and abductions 
are certainly becoming rare, especially in the full light of the 
day ; besides Mile, de Ganges had left her house at three 
o'clock, and it was not likely that she would have been in the 
Saint Cloud Avenue at night-fall. Whilst the hapless lover 
lost himself in vague conjections, Domingo, lantern in hand 
explored the spot, carefully examining the broken branches, 
and looking at the marks on the soft soil, which had not yet 
had time to dry after the recent rains. " Master," said he, 
" I think that I can guess what has happened. Mademoiselle 
was going along the road either at a walk or a canter, for 
she hated trotting, when the horse shied ; he has more than 
once almost thrown me off by doing that when there was 
nothing to frighten him — a dog running across him, or a 
carter cracking his whip. Well, he has done that now, and 
jumped right into the thicket ; the veil has been torn off by a 
branch, and the horse has fallen against that stump. You 
can see the marks of his hoofs in the mud ; he fell on his side, 
and threw Mademoiselle over his head." 

" You are right," murmured the affrighted George, " and 
she may have been killed on the spot." 

" Oh ! Master, you must not be sure of that — all falls are 
not fatal, and if an accident of that kind had happened we 
should have known it at the villa. Mademoiselle always 
carried a pocket-book in which were her cards with her name 
and address ; in fact she said to me to-day as she put it into 
the bosom of her habit, ' If I break my neck, I shall not at 
any rate be taken to the mortuary, for I have written down 
my address in it.' " 

" But in order to find this address, they would have to un- 
dress her, and certainly they have not done so here. How 
can we tell who has picked her up, or where she has been 
taken to ? " 

" Not far, master, I can take my oath of that. Paris is 
only a league from here, and there are plenty of houses close 
at hand." 

" And what has became of the horse 1 " 

" They must have taken it away with them — but I say 
again that Mademoiselle is not dead, and I can swear that my 



Lost.' 283 

presentiments never play me false. She may very likely be 
injured." 

" Then she must be severely hurt. For if she had 
recovered her senses, she would have sent some one to me. 
She knew that I dined at the club." 

" Perhaps she was afraid of alarming you — or very likely 
she could not find a messenger. If I were in your place, 
master, I would go back to the villa. Very likely some news 
may have come there since you left ; even Mademoiselle her- 
self, for all we know, may have returned." 

It was evident that Domingo was tired of the searching 
expedition, and George grew angry. " Be off with you 
then," said George to the negro ; " I can do without your 
aid. I shall search until I have found her. If necessary I 
will walk about here until daylight." 

" So will I, master — do not send me away, please. I will go 
wherever you like." 

" Well, then, come on," answered George, grasping the veil. 
" I am first going to the Restaurant de Madrid." 

" Just as you like, master, only I don't know the way." 

" But I do, so come along." 

Domingo obeyed him in silence, and moving on in the 
same direction, they soon found themselves at the open space 
between the lakes. The rain was now falling at short 
intervals from the clouds as they hurried by, and this change 
in the weather diminished the chance of meeting anyone 
before they reached the Madrid. The park-keepers in such 
weather only come out at stated hours to make their rounds. 
Domingo was now perfectly resigned, and did not say a word 
to his master, who as silent as his servant walked along at a 
sharp pace. In due time they reached the Madrid, which is 
a large establishment used for various purposes. Gentlemen 
out riding stop there for their bitters, some people dine there, 
parties out for a day's pleasure occasionally have supper 
there, and in the summer people sometimes sleep there. 

There are excellent stables for the horses that are going to 
run at Longchamps, with good galloping ground for exercise, 
and comfortable accommodation for the grooms and boys 
in attendance on them ; with a snug coffee-room, in 
which the latter can wash out their mouths, as they talk 
over the trials that have taken place during the day. When 
George arrived the door was closed, but there were lights in 
some of the windows on the first floor, and through the closed 
shutters of the rooms below voices could be heard, although 
it was now very late ; for the tramp through the wood had 
taken up a great deal of time. Domingo rang, and the 
waiter who after an interval opened the door started back 



284 Fickle Heart 

in astonishment on seeing a negro bearing a lantern, and 
escorting a well-dressed gentleman. But a few words from 
George explained matters, and the waiter at once said that 
at about five o'clock in the afternoon a boy had brought in a 
horse which he had found wandering about the Avenue 
Saint Cloud, and that, as no one bad come to claim the 
animal they had put it in the stable until the owner should 
make his appearance. On George's request, he was at once 
taken to the stable, and at a glance recognised the bay 
horse, which was tied up, still saddled, and munching its hay 
in seeming content. 

" You have not seen the lady who was riding it ? " 

" No, sir. The horse was loose when the boy caught it. 
He was going quietly then, but I think there must have 
been an accident, as his knees are barked, and the saddle is 
covered with mud." 

This was the fact, and it was evident that Domingo was 
right as to the accident. 

"How was it that you did not send anyone in search of 
the lady who had been riding it ? She must have been 
injured in her fall." 

" Faith, sir, the master thought of doing so. But it was 
impossible for him to know where the accident had happened, 
and the Bois de Boulogne is of great extent. We might 
have looked for a long time ; and besides, this evening we 
were very busy for the house in full, and master said that he 
would send notice to the Commissary of Police to-morrow." 

" Can I see your master ? " 

" He is in bed, and has given orders that he is not to 1 >e 
disturbed. Does the horse belong to you, sir ? " 

" Yes." 

" Ah ! I ask that, because there is a lady's saddle on it, and, 
as you can understand, we could not give it up without 
making inquiries." 

" I don't want to take it away now, but " 

" If, sir, you would like to sleep here, we could give you an 
excellent bed, and to-morrow you could ask master what you 
liked. Did you walk here, sir 1 " 

" Yes. I live at Auteuil," answered George, who began to 
ask himself what he should do now, for though the bay horse 
had been found, Diana was as much lost as ever, and it was 
Diana that George was seeking. 

He could now see exactly how things had happened. The 
horse, who had no limb broken, had got up after his fall, and 
had quietly taken the road to his stable. A boy had met 
him, and taken him to the Madrid, where most likely the 
lady was who had been riding him, and from whence he 



Lost ! i>85 

might have broken away owing to the carelessness of the 
person to whom he had been entrusted. All that was 
f xeeedingly probable, but in the meantime what had become 
of Mile, de Ganges ? She might still be lying on the spot 
where she had fallen, stunned by the shock. Had she 
managed to gain her feet, only to fall again deeper in the 
recesses of the thicket ? As this idea passed through his 
mind, George began to reproach himself for not having 
instituted a closer search, but then again he considered that 
had Diana recovered her senses she would have certainly 
endeavoured to gain the road, and not have plunged deeper 
into the coppice. It was useless then to re-commence a 
search which would doubtless end fruitlessly, and he was 
utterly overcome with fatigue. He therefore made up his 
mind to stay where he was. 

" Can you put up my servant 1 " asked he. 

" Certainly, sir. We have a small room, which will do well 
for him." 

" Show me my room, then," 

" Will you take anything before you go to bed 1 " 

" No, thank you." 

" Because if you do, it will give me the time to get your 
room ready, which is not quite prepared. We have been very 
full to-day. The Count de Sartilly has been here to see his 
horse, which is to run to-morrow." 

" The Count de Sartilly ! " repeated George. 

This name sounded like an evil omen to George, and he at 
once began to ask himself if the Count's visit to the Madrid 
had no other object than to look after the future winner of 
the Produce Stakes. 

"Yes, sir, he and his partner, M. de Saint Senier, have 
been here, also Mme. de Saint Senier," said the waiter, 
proud to be able to quote the names of such aristocratic 
visitors. 

" What time did M. de Sartilly come here % " asked George, 
quickly. 

"About half-past three, and M. de Saint Senier came 
about twenty minutes afterwards. Do you know these 
gentlemen, sir 1 " 

" Did they stay here long ? " asked George, without paying 
any attention to the waiter's inquisitiveness. 

" Only long enough to have a talk with the boy who has 
charge of Snowflake. A grand horse, sir. I have backed him 
for ten francs, and if I can get leave to-morrow I shall go to 
the course to see him come in first." 

" Did M. de Sartilly come on horseback 1 " 

" No ; he came in a slap-up trap. M. and Mme. de Saint 



286 FkMe Heart 

Senier were in a very fine carriage. The Count left before 
they did." 

" Do you know where he went to 1 " 

" Let me see, sir. I think he went for a drive round the 
Bois. M. and Mme. de Saint Senier went straight back to 
Paris, and we have not seen them since ; at least, not M. de 
Saint Senier," added the waiter with an air of mystery. 

George paid no attention to the emphasis which the man 
put on this last sentence. All that he had noticed was that 
Gontran de Sartilly had been driving in the Bois at the same 
time that Mile, de Ganges had been riding there. He did not 
for an instant believe that she had gone off with him, but the 
coincidence was enough to disquiet Diana's suspicious lover. 
It was all very well for him to repeat to himself that Sartilly 
had come to his club after dinner, that he had played heavily, 
and that for all he knew he might be there still ; but he could 
not bridle his imagination, which seemed to show him that 
Gontran had something to do with Diana's strange dis- 
appearance. 

He made up his mind to send Lisa, who had kept up her 
acquaintance with Francis, to M. de Sartilly's house, the next 
day but he must wait a little before he did so, and might as 
well take some rest whilst he was doing so. He therefore 
followed the waiter, who led him from the stable to the main 
building, where on the first floor were the rooms used for the 
restaurant, and two other rooms, one of which was a gentle- 
men's coffee-room, and the other a bar used by the servants. 
Just then the coffee-room was empty, but the gas was still 
burning, and the waiter left George there, whilst he went to 
give orders regarding the bedroom. Domingo, who had kept 
close to his master, now asked leave to go to the bar to drink 
a glass of rum, and George the more willingly granted his 
request from the fact that he wished to be alone to think 
out a new idea to which his brain had given birth, and that 
was whether DiaDa after her fall had not sought shelter at 
the Madrid, and Gontran de Sartilly had not come there to 
meet her. In order to reach the bar it was necessary to cross 
the court, and Domingo, in doing so, suddenly found himself 
face to face with a man. The recognition was mutual. He 
was Mme. de Saint Semer's coachman. 

Both men were much surprised. Then explanations were 
entered into. Domingo, who did not care to tell the whole 
truth to a man whom he did not trust, simply said that his 
master had come to the Madrid to reclaim one of his horses 
which had escaped from the stable, and which had been 
traced to Borne's. Of this tale the coachman believed as 
much as he chose, but he did not hesitate to tell the negro 



Lost ! 287 

that his mistress, after a performance at the Circus in the 
Champs Elysees, which she never failed to visit every 
Saturday, had suddenly determined to sup at the Madrid 
with her friend, the Baroness de Rechampy ; that the meal 
had been prolonged, that the ladies were now about to leave, 
and that he had received orders to get the carriage ready. 
Domingo made up his mind to warn his master that Mme. 
de Saint Senier was in the hotel ; and ou his side the coach- 
man thought that his mistress would not be ill-pleased to 
learn that a chance had brought M. Cezambre to the 
restaurant, for the handsome coachman was no longer 
jealous ; his mistress had found means to soothe him, and 
he did all he could to be agreeable to her. Ever since 
February she had not ceased to repeat to him that the young 
Creole had endeavoured to compromise her reputation, and 
that she would be only too glad to play him a trick in return. 
Now or never was the time to do so, if, as the suspicious 
coachman believed, George Cezambre intended to pass the 
night at the hotel in the strictest incognito. 

Domingo entered the bar, where two or three of the stable- 
boys were seated with a bottle of whisky before them. Two 
of the horses that were to run against Snowflake were stabled 
at the Madrid, and Dick was amongst the drinkers, or rather 
the talkers, for Dick was excessively temperate. The negro, 
who had been born and brought up in the Mauritius, spoke 
English as well as he did French, and he could have easily 
joined in the conversation whilst he was sipping the drink with 
which a sharp-looking barmaid had supplied him ; but from 
motives of prudence, as well as curiosity, he contented 
himself with playing the part of a listener only. He 
listened to these horsey young fellows discussing the merits 
and criticising the defects, of their masters. All, however, 
were agreed on one point, and that was that French gentlemen 
were absolutely ignorant of sporting matters, and they 
decided that Saint Senier was a mug, Sartilly a humbug, and 
Mowbridge the jockey whose name had somehow cropped up 
in the conversation, a thoroughly bad lot capable of coming 
to an understanding with a bookmaker to sell a race if it 
suited him. Dick declared that before joining his comrades 
he had taken care to lock the door of the stable in which 
Snowflake was, and that he should sleep by the side of the 
noble animal, so that no one could come near him until the 
moment that he went to the post. Domingo listened eagerly 
to this conversation, and made up his mind to report it to his 
master, and therefore he was in no hurry to leave the room. 

During this time George walked up and down waiting 
impatiently for his room. After ten minutes, which seemed 



268 Fidde Heart 

to him an age, the waiter made his appearance and said that 
a lady wished to see him. 

" What lady 1 " asked George, in extreme surprise. 

" A lady who would not give her name, sir, but who said 
that you knew her ; she is in a private sitting-room upstairs ; 
perhaps you will have the goodness to come with me.'' 

" A private sitting-room ? " 

" Yes, sir, we have some very charming ones." 

" I daresay you have, but I don't want to see them. How 
could the lady, who sent you to me and who pretends to 
know me, have found out that I am here 1 I have not given 
my name, and she has not seen me." 

" Excuse me, sir, but the windows of the sitting-room look 
on the courtyard, and no doubt she saw you when you were 
crossing it with your black servant. He carried a lantern, 
and so it was easy to recognise him ; besides his colour is 
rather remarkable." 

George again asked himself if this mysterious lady was 
not Diana de Ganges, who had hidden herself at the Madrid 
where she had had an appointment with the Count de 
Sartilly. But if it was she why should she summon her 
lover after having left him. Did she desire to have a final 
explanation with him on neutral ground, so as to break off 
with him without any risk of personal violence ; for at the 
villa, perhaps, he might have treated her as the Russian had 
treated his mistress. 

Anything, however, was better than a state of uncertainty, 
so he said : " Very well, take me to the lady." Then, after 
a. moment's reflection, he added : " My servant is in the bar, 
tell him not to go to bed until he has seen me again." For 
he thought that he might very likely have need of the 
services of the faithful Domingo after the interview which 
lie had decided to risk with the unknown. 

" 1 will not fail to do so, sir. Your bedroom is ready, and 
[ will send your servant there." 

George, who was anxious to be rid of his uncertainty, 
followed the waiter who led him up to the first floor, and his 
heart beat violently as the waiter threw open the door and 
closed it hastily behind him as soon as he had entered. A 
thick cloud of smoke almost concealed the occupants, though 
there were about a dozen candles alight. 

" Many thanks for having come, my dear sir," said a 
voice, which was not that of Diana de Ganges. 



CEAPTER XXXII 

" MY LORD, 'TIS JEALOUSY : ' 

With much blinking of the eyes, George managed to discover 
through the acrid clouds of tobacco smoke two woman 
reclining on a couch, and smoking Russian cigarettes of 
unusual size. 

" Come in," continued the voice. " One would almost 
swear that you were afraid of us. Come in, and let me 
introduce you to my friend, the Baroness Rechampy." 

All George's hopes vanished as he recognised Mme. de 
Saint Senier, but instead of accepting her invitation he 
drew back. " Ah,"well ! " said she with a sneer, " I know 
that it is not I that you are in search of. You are in 
trouble about the beautiful Diana. Be comforted, she is not 
lost, and I will give you news of her.' ; 

George ought to have withdrawn at once from these 
women, sprawling about on the couch of a restaurant, who 
sent a sensation of horror through his whole body. They 
were half-intoxicated, having finished a bottle of chartreuse 
between them, and were finishing their debauch with tobacco. 
For nothing could issue from the lips of these shameless 
creatures but a string of calumny and falsehood : and yet 
he lingered, a prey to that sickly curiosity which is the 
offspring of jealousy. " You are burning to know what has 
become of her," continued the lady. " WeJl, I can tell you. 
But if you wish me to do so, begin by sitting down. Oh, no, 
not on the couch — I will spare your native innocence. Take 
that chair, a.nd tBien the table will be between us." 

George did as he was bid, resolving to endure everything 
for the sake of obtaining the information which Mme. do 
Saint Senier had promised him. 

She had already " pulled herself together," and her com- 
panion, the little Baroness de Rcchampy, had regained her 
equilibrium. 

Both of them affected an air of steadiness, as a drunken 
soldier does when the captain inspects his company. 

The baroness, who had every desire to fascinate this 
handsome young Creole who had caught her fancy at the 

u 



290 Fickle Heart 

horse show, threw herself into a becoming attitude ; but 

Mme. cle Saint Senier, who despaired of ever again renewing 

the idyll commenced on a certain night in February, only 

thought of avenging her defeat by attacking her rival with 

her venomous tongue. " My dear child," said she, with an 

assumption of the maternal which did not sit at all gracefully 

on her, " permit me to give you a piece of advice which 

I am justified in doing, as I am a few years older than you, 

and we also come from the same part. Don't be afraid, 

I am not going to talk of what has passed. You had a 

letter of introduction to my husband, and I received you 

warmly. You were mistaken as to my intentions and we 

have not seen you since. But that is over and forgotten, 

and all I desire is your good company. Let me then point out 

to you the discomforts that will arise from the connection which 

you have formed with all the careless impetuosity of youth." 

Mme. de Rechampy had never heard her friend adopt 

the high moral tone before, and she could hardly restrain 

her laughter. George, however, began to lose patience. 

" Madame," said he, abruptly : " If it is your intention to 

give me a lecture " 

"I ! " exclaimed the Viscountess, reverting at once to her 
outspoken manner, "why, I am for liberty in love, as in 
everything else. My husband shares my ideas, and does not 
hide them, as you ought to know who are so intimate with 
him. He goes his way, and I mine. For instance, it was 
his wish to pass his evening, his night for all I know, at 
his club ; he was right to do as he liked, andl should make no 
enquiries as to the time when he returned home. I and 
this lady went to the Circus, and afterwards as neither she or 
I had any desire for bed, we told our coachman to drive us 
to the Madrid as we were getting hungry. I have been 
here before to-day with my husband to look at one of his 
horses which is to run to-morrow ; my friend and I supped 
merrily like a couple of bachelors, and then we set to smoking 
Russian cigarettes, which have made us half screwed." 

" So I see, Madame," answered George, more in suspense 

than ever, " but " 

"You think that I am going away from the subject in 
which you are interested. I am coming back to it, but 
I only want to show you that I am the last woman in the 
world to blame you for having followed your whim. 
Mademoiselle de Ganges took your fancy, and you took her 
away, or rather she took you. I don't intend to tell you 
wln,t I rhink of the whole business, but only say — ' Mind 
voursel/.' " 

" I— I don't follow you." 



"■My Lord, 'tis Jealousy" 291 

" Yes, you do perfectly. But there are things of which 
you are ignorant, and which I am going to tell you, in your 
interest, of course. You think that this companion of the 
unfortunate Countess de Sartilly conceived a violent passion 
for you, and sacrificed her name and reputation to you 1 In 
a word that you were her first love 1 '' 

" Madame ! " 

"Don't get in a rage, but listen to me. You are but a 
child, and know nothing of life. Certainly you are hand- 
some enough for this red-headed woman to worship, and it 
was worth her while to throw up the paltry employment she 
held, to follow you, for you were rich, and the advantage 
was all on her side. But how was it you did not guess that 
she had been for a long time the mistress of Count " 

" It is false." 

" What a charming thing it is to be young, and how you 
wince when one tears away one of your illusions. Do you 
not see that if Sartilly had not been her lover he would 
never have tolerated her presence in his house where she was 
the source of constant quarrels. No doubt both women were 
unhappy, for Valentine is a weak fool, but Diana is full of 
rebellious instincts ; whilst Gontran is the incarnation of 
selfish egotism, and wishes every one to yield to him. Diana 
had had quite enough of his tyranny, and the unhappy 
position to which her want of fortune had reduced her. 
You appeared to deliver her just at the right moment, and 
she was artful enough to persuade you that she had sacrificed 
herself to you so as to get a share of your money. For she 
is very artful." 

" Oh, yes ! Very artful, and very naughty," put in the 
little Baroness, though she had no reason to complain of 
Diana, but then Society women who have slipped over 
the boundary will always back each other up. 

George, poor unfortunate boy, let his head sink on hm 
breast, and could find no words to refute the treacherous 
accusations of Mme. de Saint Senier. His suspicions began 
to take tangible form, and he feared lest there should be 
some truth in the accusations against Diana, who was not 
present to defend herself. " And now," continued the 
Viscountess, " shall I tell you why she has left you % " 

" How do you know that she has left me 1 " asked George, 
eafferly. 

" No one has told me, but I had not much difficulty in guess- 
ing it. When I was here earlier in the day with my husband we 
met Sartilly, and I remarked, ' really I don't know why that 
Mademoiselle de Ganges is in the habit of riding every 
day in the Boia de Boulogne, and I have frequently m#t 



292 Fickle Heart 

her there.' Sartilly at once left us rather abruptly, and 
ordered his coachman to drive to the part of the Bois that 
I had mentioned without meaning any harm. My coachman 
saw the Count's victoria turn down the Avenue of the Eeine 
Marguerite, and he must have met your fair friend not very 
far from this. Of course I was not present at the inter- 
view, but I can guess what passed. Sartilly has never 
renounced the idea of taking Diana from you. He went 
up to her and pleaded his cause, as he knows so well how to 
do when he wants to cajole a woman. He placed his all at 
her disposal. He pointed out to her that since Valentine's 
departure he is free, and offered to live openly with her. 
There was to be an end to all painful humiliations, and make- 
shifts. She is a proud woman, and the position of the Count's 
acknowledged mistress tempted her — and — she followed 
Gontran to his house, where I hope that you will not be 
foolish enough to go and look for her." 

" If I went, it would be to kill them both," replied George 
in a low deep voice, " but she is not there. Some accident 
has happened to her ; the bay horse she was riding has been 
down, he was caught straying about the roads, and brought 
here. I have just seen him." 

" But you haven't seen your fair friend. She would natu- 
rally not wish to make her entrance into Gontran's house on 
horseback, and she therefore just let the animal go, and got 
into his victoria. Sartilly is rich enough to buy her another 
horse." 

At this George grew pale with rage ; he no longer hesitated 
to believe that Diana had betrayed him, and he swore to be 
revenged. Mme. de Saint Senier, profiting by the advantage 
she had gained, only thought how she might poison the wound 
that she had inflicted on that loving heart. "Of course the girl's 
conduct is inexcusable," said she, with an accent of disgust. 
" I am not astonished at her leaving you, for this sort of 
connection does not last long ; but she ought to have done so 
in a proper manner. I have seen many such partings in good 
society, but without any discreditable abruptness." 

The little baroness was going to add something to what 
her friend had said, when there was a knock at the door. 
George started to his feet. Mme. de Saint Senier cried, "Come 
in," and her coachman appeared, hat in hand. 

" Your ladyship's carriage is waiting," said he, glancing out 
of the corner of his eye at the man at whom he had shot 
two months before. 

George also recognised the rascal who had fired at him as 
if he were a mad dog, and was, for an instant, temjrted to 
seize him by the throat, and pay off the grudge he owed to 



" My Lord, 'tis Jealousy " 293 

him and to his mistress, at the same moment. He con- 
tented himself with casting a contemptuous glance at both of 
them, and had Mme. de Saint Senier possessed any feelings 
of shame, she would have sunk into the earth before his dis- 
dainful look. But she was not the woman to be put out of 
countenauce by such a thing as that. " Very good," said she 
in an unconcerned manner ; " then we will go down. Tell the 
people here to send me the bill for the supper to-morrow." 
The coachman bowed and disappeared, and the shameless 
woman, turning.to George, continued : " Will you forgive me 
for having caused you a little pain by rendering you so great 
a service 'I No, I can see that you will not, and I am much 
grieved. But I will console myself with the thought that, 
later on, you will be grateful to me for having exposed to you 
the treachery of a creature utterly unworthy of you. When 
you meet my husband, will you tell him that " 

But George did not wait for the end of a speech which did 
not promise to be of a pleasant character, and hastily left the 
room ; he descended the staircase, crossed the court, calling 
Domingo as he did so, but the latter no doubt could not hear 
him, for he made no answer. 

George had changed his mind ; he was now for going to 
Sartilly's house. He did not stop to consider how he should 
get into it at this hour of the night, and he could not even 
know if the Count had returned home, for he had left him at 
the club after receiving a large sum from him. George had 
no thought of punishing Diana except by disdain and con- 
tempt, but he determined to have Gontran's life ; he would 
strike him the first time they met, force him to fight, and 
kill him in one of those desperate hand-to-hand encounters, 
which almost always end in the death of one or other of the 
combatants. As he was going towards the bar, he saw the 
two ladies cross the court, preceded by a waiter carrying a 
light. In his efforts to avoid them, he slipped into a dark 
corner and remained perfectly still, thinking that they would 
pass by him in order to reach their carriage. The ladies, who 
did not see him, were conversing in rather loud tones, and 
he heard the little Baroness say : " It is a nuisance to go 
away so early ; are you sleepy ? " 

" Not a bit," replied Mme. de Saint Senier. " If it was 
the season for the opera balls, I would willingly go there and 
finish the night. But what can we do here at this hour ? If 
my little Creole had been more manageable we might have 
prolonged our sitting, but he does not understand chaff, and 
is mad after that red-haired woman with green eyes . There 
is no good to be done with him, my dear. He thinks of no 
one but her." 



294 Fickle Heart 

" He will turn out badly." 

" So I told him ; I think I said enough." 

" Too much; he is quite capable of shooting her when he 
sees her, and blowing his own brains out afterwards. All 
that sort of girls have luck. No man has ever thought of 
hi 1 hug himself for me." 

"Nor for me either, and I shouldn't care about anyone 
doing so. Such tragedies frighten me ; I have laid myself out 
for amusement without scandal." 

" You are quite right there, my dear ; but I still persist in 
saying that we are going home too early. I should have liked 
to have seen that horse — what was its name 1 oh — Snowflake, 
which is to win so much money for your husband to-morrow." 

"Yes, I shan't see much of that," murmured Mme. de 
Saint Senier. "But, if you want to look at the beast, I can 
show him to you." Then calling to the waiter, who had dis- 
creetly moved a little way off : " Take me," said she, " to the 
stable where the racers are, and open the loose box in which 
mine is." 

" I would willingly do so, Madame, but the English boy 
who looks after him has taken away the key." 

" Where has he gone to ? I thought he was going to sleep 
by the side of the horse — he told my husband and myself so." 

" And so he intends, Madame ; but just now he is in the 
bar with some other boys." 

" What do you say? It seems odd to me that he should be 
drinking with those who are in the employ of our antagonists. 
Fetch the young rascal here." 

" Here he comes, Madame." 

Dick had just come out of the liar, and found himself face 
to face with Mme. de Saint Senier. He showed no recogni- 
tion, however, and was passing her without notice, without 
even touching his cap, when she stopped him. "Why were 
you not at your post ? " she asked. 

The lad shrugged his shoulders, but made no reply, and 
was continuing on his way when she shrieked out, " What do 
you mean ? Don't you know that I am your master's wife ? 
You must, for I was here with him this morning." 

Dick made a sign that he was acquainted with the fact, but 
he did not open his mouth. 

"Speak English if you like. I understand it." Then, as 
Dick persisted in remaining silent, she continued : " You are 
doing this expressly ; you are most insolent, and I will have 
you turned out for it." 

Dick did not flinch. The little Baroness laughed loudly, 
and George, hidden in his corner, saw all that was passing 
by the light the waiter carried. 



"My Lord, 'tis Jealousy" 295 

In a furious passion Mme. de Saint Senier pushed the arm 
of the obstinate lad, and cried out, " You shall be settled 
with to-morrow ; but now I order you to take me to the box 
where my horse is." 

This order unloosed Dick's tongue, who answered in plain 
enough French, but with a strong English accent, " I don't 
take my orders from you. The horse isn't yours ; it belongs 
to your husband and M. de Sartilly. You shan't see him. I 
promised that no one should go into the stable, and no one 
shall." 

Mme. de Saint Senier was going to fly out again, when 
Mme. de E^champy calmed her by whispering : " Come 
away, my dear, I shall be quite satisfied with seeing Snow- 
flake to-morrow, and you cannot in common decency quarrel 
with a stable lad." Dick, after enunciating his peremptory 
refusal, had continued on his way, and the Viscountess per- 
mitted herself to be drawn away to her carriage by her 
friend. Whilst they were getting in, Domingo came out of 
the bar and perceived George. "Ah, master," said the negro, 
"I have learned more strange things about M. de Sartilly ; 
there were a lot of grooms in there chattering in English, and 
as they thought I did not understand them, they did not care 
what they said." 

" What were they saying ?" asked George, who had hardly 
recovered from the varied emotions through which he had 
passed. 

" Well, they said that the Count was ruined, and that to 
recoup himself he was going to commit some robbery on the 
turf, and that he had made arrangements with his jockey to 
lose the race." 

"And it is for such a villain as that, that she has betrayed 
me," cried George, who did not hesitate to speak out before 
his faithful follower. 

" What ! has Mademoiselle " 

" She met the Count de Sartilly in the Bois de Boulogne, 
and they have gone off together." 

" Impossible ! master." 

" You will see that it is true, for you shall go with me to 
his house in the Avenue d'Eylau." 

'' What, master, you want to " 

" I want to insult him, and when I have him at sword's 
point, I will kill him." 

Domingo saw that his young master had lost his head, and 
to prevent him from committing a folly, he had the presence 
of mind to say, 

" You need not take the trouble to go there, for he will be 
here to-morrow morning." 



296 Fickle Heart 

" How do you know that 1 " 

" One of the stable boys said so. You had better wait 
here, and then you will be sure of seeing him ; whilst at his 
house they wouldn't let you in." 

" You are right. I will wait for him here, and compel 
him to tight on the spot. There are plenty of places close by, 
and I shall kill him." 

At twenty years of age one believes in everything. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

VAGUE SUSPICIONS 

With the dawn of day, Gontran left his club, without a 
shilling in the world, with his brain on fire, and his heart 
full of rage and despair. Those who have lived in the 
gambling world know what the mornings are like after a 
night passed at the gaming table. They remember the pale 
light of the day forcing its way through the curtains, 
the expiring candles, the smell of stale cigar smoke, the 
yawning waiters, and then after leaving the club, the sight 
of the coachmen asleep on their boxes, the hideous night 
cabs, musty and unhealthy-looking, the pavement invaded by 
the street sweepers, and the picture of working Paris com- 
mencing its daily labour. The mechanic going to his work- 
shop, the apprentice with his loaf under his arm, and the 
old woman who dispenses cups of so-called coffee at her stall. 
At that hour all fallacious hopes take to flight, the battle of 
life commences, and the unhappy wretch who has left his 
last coin on the green cloth of the card-table asks himself 
whether it would not be better to end it all in the Seine 
than to seek a sleepless bed, or worse even than that, to be 
haunted by the visions which are the offspring of despair. 

The Count de Sartilly had not gone quite so far as this, but 
he had moved one step nearer to the abyss, the destination 
of all those who fall from their high estate. He did not yet 
consider that he was beaten in the race of life, and he trusted 
more than ever to his own energy to extricate himself from 
the position in which he had placed himself by squandering 
the money he so urgently required. In a few hours Snow- 
flake would doubtless -win the Produce Stakes ; but what 



ague Suspicions 297 

irritated Sartilly more than anything was that in his game 
he had acted like a mere tyro, in having allowed his passion 
to get the better of him, instead of having remained cold, 
calm, and calculating. His self-love had driven him into 
the game which had ended so disastrously for him. He had 
thought to crush George by mere weight of money. George, 
whom he loathed and hated, and who had continued to win 
from him until the moment when he had been called away by a 
letter, and then had gone off carrying away his enemy's 
money with him. And, worse fault of all, instead of having 
profited by the warning that Fortune had given him, Sartilly 
had striven to regain his money, and had committed the 
greatest fault which an experienced gambler can be guilty 
of, that of endeavouring to make head against a run of ill- 
luck. 

Punishment had not been slow to overtake him, and M. 
Vacheron's son-in-law left the club without one of those 
banknotes which he had extorted from the pockets of the 
good old man. 

" I am rightly served," muttered he between his teeth, " to 
have been cleaned out by a greenhorn, and a set of timid 
punters who had not the pluck to go banco once. They eat 
me up by degrees. It is a doiible kind of death to be killed 
by players of that class. Better to die at one blow. It was 
lucky that I met Oxwall yesterday, or his money would 
have gone with the rest." Of all the sins with which his 
conscience was charged Count de Sartilly only repented of 
the most pardonable, that of having gambled away money 
which he had promised on his honour to use in paying 
his debts before leaving France. He would willingly have 
applied to himself the words of Talleyrand regarding the 
death of the last of the race of Conde, shot in the ditch of 
Vincennes, by order of Napoleon I. : "It is worse than a crime, 
it is a blunder." 

And now he must repair this mistake, and at the same 
time take his revenge. M. Cezambre, his opponent at the 
gaming table, had lost his mistress, and he, Gontran, would 
take good care not to yield her to him again. Snowflake was 
under the guardianship of a faithful boy who would preserve 
him from any machinations on the part of Oxwall, who 
besides had tacitly signed a treaty of peace by receiving 
the eighty thousand francs that were owing to him. Valen- 
tine's husband got into one of those belated cabs that were 
standing about, and jingled off to his house in the Avenue 
d'Eylau. 

Almost all his household were up and about. The porter 
had kept one eye open, his wife was sitting by the bedside 



298 Fickle Heart 

of the patient, and the valet was keeping guard in the 
hall. 

Everyone was eagerly expecting the master, who ought 
to have been home much earlier, and each was anxious to 
give him the news regarding Mile, de Ganges. She had 
not recovered consciousness, and had been delirious during 
the night, and Dr. Pontier, who had visited her again at 
midnight, was even now by her side. Francis, although 
strictly cross-examined, persisted in declaring that no one 
had been to the house since the Count's departure, and 
received orders to inform the doctor that M. de Sartilly had 
returned, and would see him in three-quarters of an hour. 
After having given this message Gontran went to his own 
room to change his dress, after which he proposed to go to 
the Madrid, first, of course, having interviewed the doctor ; 
and to pass the mor/iing in company with his groom and 
Mowbridge, the latter having been summoned by him for 
eleven o'clock, to breakfast there and to be at Longchamps in 
time for the first race. Diana was not yet in a state to listen 
to him, and he thought that she would do so the more 
willingly when she knew that his horse had won, which 
would at once lift him out of the mire. He would then be 
freed from all the uneasiness which was surrounding him on 
all sides, and he could urge her to come with him to England, 
and point out to her that it would be better to leave 
a lover without any social position, to become the avowed 
mistress of a nobleman of rank and means. 

If the unfortunate girl should die from the effects of her 
fall, this plan would drop to the ground ; but no one could 
venture to reproach him for having picked up Mile, de Ganges 
after her accident, and brought her to his own house to have 
her injuries looked to. In this event, Gontran would lose 
Diana ; but George would do the same, who would be less 
likely to console himself for his loss than his rival would. 
As soon as he had completed his toilet, the Count came 
downstairs, and whilst he was waiting for the doctor, smoked 
a cigar in the garden to collect his thoughts. 

He possessed in the highest degree the gift of being able 
to get away from his troubles — that is to say, to momentarily 
forget the past, even events of a most recent date, and to look 
in the face present difficulties; he hardly thought at all 
about the money that he had so foolishly lost, and his mind 
only ran on the heavy bets that he was going to make, and 
the Produce Stakes that he was going to win. The doctor 
shortly made his appearance looking a little exhausted with 
his long vigil. " My dear doctor," said Sartilly, " I respected 
the orders you gave, and did not go near the poor girl " 



Vague Suspicions 299 

" You might have done so,'' said the doctor, " for she 
would not have recognised you." 

" Then her state has not changed '] " 

" If anything, she is worse. To the torpor brought about 
by the effects of the fall has succeeded a state of nervous 
excitement. She is much agitated, and talks a great deal of 
nonsense. I dread brain fever." 

" And that would doubtless kill her ? " 

" Not necessarily ; and I am endeavouring to check it by 
applications of ice to the top of the head. But even if it 
should set in I do not despair, but shall do my best to the 
end. I am much helped by the nurse that I sent in, and by 
your porter's wife ; but what the patient mostly requires is 
calm and rest ; the least excitement will kill her." 

" She shall be quite quiet. Do you think that she knows 
the position she is in 1 " 

" I should say no ; though it is very hard to pronounce in 
a case like hers. She may perhaps have some confused 
notion but not perfect lucidity, which can only come back 
slowly. What is certain is, that she has not lost all remem- 
brance of the past, for she often speaks of Madame de 
Sartilly. She speaks of her by her Christian name." 

" Valentine % Yes, that is natural enough ; she and my 
wife were schoolfellows." 

'' She has also very frequently mentioned the name of a 
man — George." 

" Hush, my dear doctor ! " murmured the Count, placing 
his finger on his lips. "I know that you are the most 
discreet of men, but there are matters which we had better 
not speak of. You are not ignorant that " 

" I do not know anything, nor do I want to ; and if I 
remark that Mile, de Ganges has mentioned a man's name, 
it is to urge you to prevent him from coming near her. An 
interview would most likely produce a fatal result." 

" I will take good care that your orders are carried out," 
answered Gontran, who was a little surprised at this 
direction, which accorded so well with his own wishes. " I 
speak as a doctor only," added M. Pontier, " and T 
occupy myself with Mile, de Ganges' bodily health, and 
take no heed of other matters." 

" Very good, doctor ; and I thank you much," returned the 
Count, with a smile. 

" I am only doing my duty, and will remove my veto when 
there shall be no further occasion for it ; but until then no 
one must enter her room — no, not even a certain Lisa, whom 
she is constantly speaking of ; her maid, I fancy." 

"Lisa!" returned Sartilly, more and more surprised at 



300 Fickle Heart 

hearing the doctor successively name the persons whose 
intervention he dreaded most ; " Oh, be at ease, she shall 
not set foot in my house. I have long since given orders 
here about her. She used to be my wife's maid, but I had 
to send the jade off, for she flirted with all the men- 
servants." 

"Then I did well to tell you of her," said M. Pontier, 
"and if she still has any connections with those in your 
house it would be well to take precautions." 

" Be at ease ; I will do all that is needful. "When shall I 
see you again ? " 

" I will return some time in the day. Now I confess that 
I am going off to have a sleep." 

" Eight, doctor ; and I ought to do the same, for I have 
not been to bed ; but, unluckily for me, I did not spend 
my time in watching by the bedside of a sick person." 

" Yes, you look a little fatigued, Count ; are you in 
pain % " 

" Not at all, but I lost a great deal of money at cards, 
and I am going to try and get it back at the races, so I 
fear that I may not see you again to-day, though I shall be 
home early." 

" You will find me by the patient's side, and I hope that 
I shall have good news to give you of her condition. If she 
can sleep she is saved." 

Sartilly escorted the doctor to the gate, and then took a 
turn round the garden, and as he passed under Diana's 
windows, which the doctor had ordered to be left open, he 
fancied he heard her voice calling upon George. 

Gontran was still wandering about the grounds deep in 
his reflections, when he perceived a woman with her face 
against the bars of the fence looking fixedly at the house. 
He recognised her in a moment — it was Lisa. 

"What are you doing there, you Jezebel V cried Sartilly, 
roughly. 

" I am not a Jezebel, and the street is free to everyone," 
answered the girl. 

" Don't hang about here then, for if you continue to do so 
I will set the footmen on to you, who will treat you in such 
a manner that you will not want to come here any more." 

" I should like to see you do it ; I am not afraid of your 
footmen." 

Sartilly never intended to put his threat into execution ; 
and on reflection he thought it might be better, instead of 
losing his temper, to endeavour to make the girl talk ; for he 
felt sure that she was in search of Mile, de Ganges, who had 
disappeared from her own home the day before. He was 



Vague Suspicions 301 

not surprised that the wily girl had guessed that Diana was 
at his house, but he was positive that she did not know how 
she had come there, and this gave him a splendid idea. He 
had eagerly sought for an opportunity to wring G 4 eorge 
Cezambre's heart, and now he had found one. " Ah," said he, 
with a smile, " you have lots of pluck, and I shall waste my 
time in trying to frighten you. Speak out boldly, and say 
that you have come to look for your mistress, and that you 
think she is here." 

"Yes," answered Lisa, promptly, "and now I am sure 
of it." 

" Hulloa, and on what do you found your opinion, 
Miss, eh?" 

" If she had not been here you would not have asked me 
if I had come after her. Do you dare to deny it 1 " 

" Powerfully argued ; and now may I venture to ask you 
what you will do if it has pleased Mile, de Ganges to come 
to my house ? " 

" I should ask if she had come of her own free will." 

" Do you think that I have carried her off forcibly 1 " 

" You are capable of doing so." 

" You flatter me. But suppose Mile, de Ganges had 
thought fit to leave Auteuil, where she was getting bored 
to death, and to take up her abode here, which is certainly 
a more cheerful locality, what would you do then ? " 

" I should ask to see her." 

" On my word, you are an unbeliever." 

" Not more so than Saint Thomas." 

"And suppose that Mile, de Ganges won't show herself 
to convince you 1 " 

" Do not let us wrangle : only tell me if she is here, and 
where you met her." 

" So that you may go and report the whole to M. 
Cezambre." 

" Just so." 

" Then he has sent you here ? " 

" No ; he is not even aware that I have come, and just now 
I do not know where he is." 

" I don't believe that ; but come, I will be more open than 
you. Yes, Mile, de Ganges is here. I had the happiness 
to meet her yesterday in the Bois de Boulogne. We had a 
talk, and she told me all her troubles. I told her mine, and 
we came to an understanding at once." 

" Impossible," sighed Lisa, clasping her hands as though 
she had heard some monstrous tale of crime. 

" It is curious, is it not 1 " sneered Sartilly. " You fancied 
that the lady of the villa did not like me." 



302 Fickle Heart 

" She hated you, she has told rae so a hundred times." 

" And you believed her. Why, haven't you knocked about 
long enough to know that women always say the contrary 
to what they think. The fact is that Mile, de Ganges took 
a fancy to a young fool, and that after a time she discovered 
that this pretty little Adonis from torrid climes did not suit 
her at all. For a month past she has been weary of him, 
and was only awaiting an opportunity to get rid of him. 
That opportunity came yesterday, and she has left M. 
Ce'zambre, and will never return to him. Tell this to the 
little man from her, and from me." 

'' I will not fail to do so when Mile, de Ganges entrusts 
me with the commission," answered the waiting-maid. 

"You expect that she will see you?" asked Sartilly, 
ironically. 

" I am sure she will ; tell her 1 am here, and you will see." 

" She is asleep." 

" I will wait until she wakes." 

"You will wait a long time, then, for my servants have 
orders not to let you come in." 

" But Mile, de Ganges will come out, I suppose ? " 

"T don't think so." 

"Then she is ill?" 

" She was never better." 

" Indeed ! Why was Dr. Pontier here just now ? He does 
not come here for nothing, I suppose." 

" Come, this is too much," exclaimed Sartilly, enraged at 
her obstinacy. " So you are spying on all that is taking 
place in my house, are you 1 Do you think that I will suffer 
this ? Be off at once, or " 

" Or what ? Are you going to call a policeman to prevent 
my looking into your garden 1 Do so, Count, do so. 
Then I will tell my little story to him, and when he 
knows that I am looking for my mistress, who has been 
smuggled away in a mysterious manner, I don't think 
he will say that 1 am in the wrong. Or suppose I go to 
the Rue de D6me to Dr. Pontier, he knows me well enough, 
for he attended me once ; he certainly will not refuse to tell 
me all about Mademoiselle." 

"Go to the devil, you jade," exclaimed Sartilly, who had 
come to the end of his patience. " It is too good of me to 
talk to you. If you find M. Cezambre wants any explana- 
tion, let him come to me and I will cure him of meddling in 
my affairs," and with these words Gontran cut short the con- 
versatiou by turning away. Neither had Lisa any wish to 
carry it on any further, for now she knew for certain that 
Mile, de Ganges was in the house of the Count de Sartilly. 



Vague Suspicions 303 

The presentiment that had driven her to seek her here had 
not deceived her, and she felt convinced that her mistress 
was detained in spite of herself. She half suspected the 
truth from having noticed the visit of Dr. Pontier, and she 
determined not to return to the villa without having 
obtained reliable information of what had happened to her 
mistress. She trusted to her old lover Francis for this, and 
did not at all care for the abuse of the Count de Sartilly. She 
therefore made up her mind to go away until the master 
should have left the premises, and as he would be all day at 
the races, the field would be open to her ; and then she would 
try to get hold of the valet, who might, despite the strict 
orders of his master, introduce her into the house itself. At 
that instant she caught sight of Francis, who had come out 
to announce to his master that the carriage was ready ; she 
could see that he, too, had caught sight of her, but she took 
care to make no sign to him which the Count would cer- 
tainly have remarked, and she therefore affected to leave 
the vicinity of the house. Sartilly was glad to see her go 
away, and after repeating his orders that no one should be 
admitted to the house, he drove off to the Madrid, where he 
ought to have been before. 

" It is only one's own people that betray us," says a 
proverb ; and Gontran, though no doubt he knew it, did not 
for a moment suspect that Francis, his confidential man, 
could refuse nothing to the waiting-maid who had gone over 
to the enemy ; besides, he was just now thinking a great deal 
less of Mile, de Ganges than of his horse. "When he arrived 
at the Madrid it was only eight o'clock in the morning, and 
no one was up. 

Mme. de Saint Senier's supper had kept two or three of the 
waiters up very late ; the barmaid had not gone to bed until 
three o'clock, the master of the house was taking a long rest 
to prepare him for the fatigues of the day. Domingo, worn 
out by his exertions, was snoring steadily, and George, from 
whom sleep had for some time fled, had at last sunk to 
slumber in his room on the first floor. On the other hand, 
however, the stable lads had been up with the dawn, for 
horses will not wait patiently for the services of their valets. 
When the Count got out at the hotel, it was a sleepy groom 
who opened the door and helped the coachman to unharness 
his horse ; whilst Gontran, who knew the place thoroughly, 
passed through the courtyard, and went to the stables 
reserved for the horses that are to run at Longcharnp3. 
Sartilly found Dick walking Snowflake round the paddock 
which lies at thy bxok of the stables. The horse looked in 
•xoelioat form and condition, and his appearance gladdened 



304 Fickle Heart 

the eyes of his owner. Snowflake came of an illustrious 
lineage ; his sire Floreal, had won the Derby, and his dam 
Bastille, the Oaks, and he looked as if he was going to rival 
the feats of his progenitors. 

Dick appeared to be as sulky as ever, and did not seem 
delighted at the sight of his master ; he barely touched his 
cap to him, and instead of stopping short, ready to answer 
questions, he continued to walk Snowflake round the pad- 
dock, leaving Sartilly to follow if he pleased. Gontran had 
no desire to make the lad vexed with him, so he took no 
notice of this behaviour, but walked along by his side. To 
the praises which Sartilly lavished on him for his care of his 
charge, he only answered in monosyllables, so that Sartilly 
at last said, " Come, let us see what is the matter. Yesterday 
I threatened to send you off, but I shall not do so now. You have 
looked after the horse admirably, and so I can overlook your 
bad temper. If you have anything to complain of, out with 
it ; here I am ready to listen, and do what I can for you. Are 
not your wages sufficient 1 " 

" It is not that," growled Dick. 

" Then what are you so ill-tempered about ! " 

" Mowbridge." 

" Again ! What has Mowbridge done to you % You told 
me what you thought of Mm, and I agreed that he had many 
faults, but what do they signify as long as he wins the race? " 

" He was bragging yesterday that he would lose it." 

" Bragging ! where ? " 

" In a tavern before one of my pals, who told me of it." 

" He must have been laughing at them. If he had had 
any idea of doing it he would not have talked of it.'' 

" He was drunk, and so he was when he came here." 

" When was that 1 " 

" Three quarters of an hour after you hadleft. Your partner, 
M. de Saint Senier, and his wife had gone. If you want to 
see him you have only to wait, for he said that he would be 
back this morning." 

" Good, I will have a serious talk with him." 

" And I beg, sir, that you will tell him to let me alone. I 
will take the horse to him at the weigh-house, but here I 
don't want anyone to touch him. No one shall come near 
him. Last night the Viscountess wanted to look at him, but I 
refused to let her. She said her husband would send me away, 
but I turned my back on her, and would not let her into the 
stable." 

" The Viscountess ! what Viscountess ? " cried Sartilly. 

" The Viscountess Saint Senier," answered the boy quietly. 

" What ? Was she here last night? " 



Vague Suspicions 305 

" Yes, she came about eleven, and did not go away until 
two this morning." 

" Was she with her husband 1 " 

" Her husband 1 no ! if he had given orders to open the 
stable I should have obeyed him, as I do you." 

" Was she alone, then 'I " 

" No, she came with another lady, a baroness." 

" What did they come for ? " 

" For supper, over at the hotel ; they drank a lot, and 
afterwards sent for a gentleman, who went up and drank 
with them." 

" What gentleman ? " 

"I don't know him." 

" Did they bring him with them 1 " 

"No ; he came after they did, and they went without him. 
He slept here." 

Sartilly could no longer doubt that the gentleman was 

George Cezambre, and he did not question the boy further. 

He knew sufficient of Mine, de Saint Senier to feel astonished 

at nothing that she did, but he was glad to hear of this last 

freak of hers, as it gave him a hold on her in case she should 

ever turn against him. Not that he intended to report her 

conduct to her husband — a gentleman does not do such 

things ; besides, Saint Senier's philosophy had hardened him 

to occurrences of that kind. But Sartilly had begun to think 

of a plan which he could not execute without his partner's 

consent. His idea was to leave him after Snowflake's 

victory, so as to regain his liberty of action, and to be able, 

as circumstances turned out, either to exile himself, according 

to his agreement with his father-in-law, or else to give up a 

share in a stable which might be beyond his means. He 

hoped that a signal success would facilitate this retirement, 

and that Saint Senier would take the whole affair on his own 

shoulders. And in a case like this even the little influence 

that his wife exercised over Saint Senier might be of service. 

She was very wealthy, and the Count might be compelled 

to apply to her for funds to carry out the matter, and if 

Gontran whispered a word or two of this supper party in her 

ear it might induce her to be more amenable to reason. This 

was certainly looking some way ahead, but Sartilly felt that 

he must not neglect a single chance. His mind, too, was 

full of fresh food for thought since he had been talking with 

Dick. The lad had evidently accused Mowbridge in perfect 

good faith, and it was necessary for Sartilly to inquire intc 

these allegations, though he did not believe in them. Tht 

jockey was to be here in the course of the morning, and he 

would wait for him, and question him on his arrival. The 



306 Fickle Heart 

Count flattered himself that he exercised a certain ascendancy 
over his inferiors, so that they obeyed him passively. He 
had, he asserted, a peculiar way of looking at them which 
prevented them from lying, and Dick was perhaps the only 
one who had disputed this ascendancy. " My boy," said he, 
changing his tone, so as to smooth down Dick, whom he had 
no wish to annoy, "the amusements of these ladies don't 
concern you. You were quite right not to let them see the 
horse, and I am much obliged to you for telling me of 
Mowbridge's conduct. As long as Snowflake is in your 
charge, you are responsible for him. But I can hardly 
believe that Mowbridge meditates anything of the kind you 
suggest. What interest could he have in doing so ?" 

" He may have been promised money — lots of money. 
The thing is done every day." 

" In England perhaps, but not in France." 

"He may have laid against the horse." 

"It isn't easy for a jockey to do that. The bookmakers 
would distrust him." 

" Unless he went halves with them." 

This reply made Sartilly think for a moment of a coalition 
between Oxwall and Mowbridge, but he dismissed it at once. 
Oxwall had been paid, and was not likely to engage in a 
dangerous affair in which his former debtor had refused to 
take part. 

" Yes," replied Gontran, " of course there is reason in 
what you say ; but suppose Mowbridge was scoundrel enough 
to betray us, and had found some one to pay him for doing 
so, he would run a great risk, for if he attempted to pull his 
horse during the race everyone would see it, and he would be 
debarred from riding anywhere again, besides the chance of 
being torn to pieces by the infuriated backers." 

" Oh ! but he wouldn't try thart game. He would 
endeavour to do the last feed of hay trick." 

" And what is that, pray ? " 

" The simplest and the best of all. Whilst the horse is 
eating, someone puts small grains of opium on his tongue. 
He won't be ill next day, but he will have no heart left in 
him. He must have this given him the last thing before the 
race, so of course it is necessary to square the boy who is in 
charge of him." 

Sartilly started. The abominable trick that Dick had 
described w?« exactly what Oxgall had proposed to him, 
and the bottle containing the grains of opium was still in- his 
:lesk, for he had never thought of returning it to Oxwall or of 
throwing it away. 

" But that danger is now over," continued Dick. " I am 



An Honest Jockey 307 

sure that no one lias been in the stable, and I will not leave 
my horse until I hand him over at the weighing-house. 
Mowbridge can then do what he likes, but if Snowflake is 
beaten, it is not my fault." 

"You are a good lad," returned Gontran, "and I will 
reward you, although you have a very bad temper." 

" I don't want anything in that way. Only give me a good 
character when I leave, and I shall be satisfied." 

'' You shall not leave me. I But who is that negro 

who is looking at us 1 " asked he, interrupting himself. 

"That," said the boy, "is the servant of the gentleman 
who slept here last night. He isn't troubling his head about 
us, and has only come out to smoke his pipe until his master 
thinks fit to get up." 

" You have seen him before then 1 " 

" Yes, he came into the bar while I was there, and he 
heard Mme. de Saint Senier threaten me because I would 
not let her see the horse, as he will tell you if you ask him." 



CHAPTEE XXXIV 

AN HONEST JOCKEY 

Even if the Count had wished to question Domingo he would 
not have had time, for the negro disappeared almost as 
quickly as he had come, and at that instant his attention was 
attracted by Mowbridge opening the gate of the paddock. 
As soon as Dick perceived him he remarked briefly : " The 
horse has had enough exercise. I shall take him in now." 

" All right, my boy," replied Sartilly, " take him in, and 
do not leave him for a moment. I am going to have a talk 
with Mowbridge." 

Dick disappeared in a moment with Snowflake, and 
Gontran de Sartilly, going up to the gate, requested 
Mowbridge to come into the paddock. "Eor," said he, 
speaking in English, " I have something to say to you." 

" T am at your service, my lord," answered the jockey in 
the same language, "and most happy to have met you." 

He looked worn, but he was very calm, and his parch- 
ment-hued face told nothing. Keenly as Sartilly looked at 
him, he could not surprise any expression of embarrassment 



308 Fickle Heart 

on his features, and he was glad enough to come to the con- 
elusion that the man had nothing to reproach himself with. 
People with an uneasy conscience find it hard to look you 
straight in the face, but Mowbridge's eyes never for a moment 
fell before the gaze of his employer. 

"My dear fellow," said Gontran, "I beg you will tell me 
honestly what you think of our chance for the Produce 
Stakes. 5 ' 

"I think that we have an excellent one," answered Mow- 
bridge boldly. 

" I ask you this question because I intend to back my 
horse heavily. I have a large amount on him now, and if 
you have the least doubt of Snowflake's success, I will not go 
any deeper." 

" I have no doubts on the subject, Count," answered the 
jockey. "Snowflake is certainly one of Floreal'a best, and 
the sire was never beaten in England. He is in excellent 
form, and his last few gallops have been most assuring. 
Amongst the field there is not one capable of living in the 
race with him. Amongst them there is one, Cash-on-Delivery 
by Diamond, a thorough good horse, who will get a place, I 
think, and I will willingly take three to one on his coming in 
second, but as for his being a winner, I will take care to pre- 
veut tuat." 

All this was said with an air of frankness and openness 
which impressed Sartilly favourably. 

" Had 1 a large fortune, I would put the whole of it on 
Snowflake," continued the jockey, "and I expect his starting 
price will be five to one on, and even then I should do good 
business." 

''■ You are wrong as to the odds, they have gone down." 

" All the belter for the shnrp ones. It will be certain 
money." 

" You think so ? " 

" i think it so much that I have put on him all I have." 

" What, you have backed him 1 " 

"Yes, my lord, I have backed our horse. If, by any im- 
possible chance, he were beaten, I should lose all my savings, 
but I expect to double them." 

" You did not say so yesterday." 

'• Yesterday 1 What did I say ? I don't recollect." 

" You said in public that Snowflake would lose the race." 

" Where was that ? Ah, I know now. It was in a tavern, 
was it not, before a lot of jockevs and trainers ? " 

" Yes." 

" I suppose that your lordship had no difficulty in guessing 
why I epoke like that 1 " 



An Honest Jockey 309 

li Well, I can't say I do." 

" I have just told you that I have put as much on Snow- 
flake as I could, and I would have put on more if I could 
have got better prices. It was therefore my intention that 
he should go back in the betting, and so I bragged about 
making my horse lose, for I knew very well that the fools 
who listened to me would hawk what I said all over the 
place. The better to persuade them that I was in earnest, I 
pretended to be drunk ; they believed that I was so, and I 
expect to-day that the horse will be at evens. This is what 
I have done, and before the race I intended to let you know, 
so that you might act as you thought best." 

" Oh ! that is it, is it," muttered Sartilly only half-reassured. 

"I would wager," added Mowbridge, with the utmost 
audacity, i: that it is that young hound of a Dick who has 
repeated this to you.'' 

" You would win that bet." 

" As I shall win the others, as you will win yours. Dick 
knows how to do his work well enough, but Dick is a perfect 
fool, who cannot see beyond the tip of his nose, or, as you say 
in French, he takes bladders for lanterns ; besides that, he 
hates me — I have never known why." 

Sartilly began to comprehend the applications of that well- 
known maxim " Divide and Govern." Had these two men been 
friendly he would never have learned from one what the other 
had said in the tavern, nor would he have heard these ex- 
planations, which seemed to him entirely satisfactory. It 
therefore only remained for him to strike the grand blow in 
ppeaking of the present that he proposed to make the jockey 
if he pulled off the race. 

"I would not mind making another bet," continued 
Mowbridge with a smile, "and that is, that Dick puts no faith 
in me, and will not let me come near Snowflake. I am 
delighted that the boy has got such an idea into his head, for 
I don't want even to see the horse before the race, and the 
rigorous watch which the poor boy will keep over him will 
prevent others getting near him whose proximity might be 
dangerous." 

" Now you are talking sense, my dear John," cried Sartilly, 
" and the moment has come to tell you what I am going to do 
for you, if, as I do not doubt you will, yon come in first. I shall 
win a large sum, and it is only fair that you should have 
your share of it.'' 

" I thank you with all my heart, my lord, the more so that 
I did not look for anything of the kind, for M. de Saint Senier 
told me that it was not the custom in France to make any 
present to the jockey," 



310 Fickle Heart 

" M. de Saint Senier's ideas and mine do not agree on this 
point. What present used Lord Winter to make you after 
you had ridden a winner for him ? " 

" That depended on the importance of the race and the 
money he had on. Once after Ascot, I got a thousand pounds, 
but then Lord Winter had cleared ten thousand." 

"This evening, after the race, I will hand over to you 
twelve hundred pounds, thirty thousand francs ; is that 
sufficient ? " 

" It is too much, my lord." 

" Not so, for if Snowflake wins I shall gain more than 
Lord Winter did on that day." 

" Lord Winter has an income of a million francs a-year," 
objected the jockey. 

Sartilly was surprised at the coldness with which the 
jockey received the intelligence of this almost royal gift. 

"And I," said he, "have only three hundred thousand 
francs a-year, which, in England, would be looked on as a 
small thing, but here it is considered a very comfortable 
income, and I can therefore permit myself to be generous." 
Then, as Mowbridge scratched his head and made no reply : 
" Come, confess that you have been told that I am a ruined 
man 1 " continued the Count, looking him in the face. 
Mowbridge made a gesture of denial, but Sartilly did not 
credit him. 

" The saddle galls him," thought he to himself, and had 
he had some of those thousand franc notes in his pocket- 
book which he had lost at play he would have given three 
or four of them to the jockey as an earnest of what he should 
receive ; but, owing to that unfortunate evening, he had only 
some two hundred louis in his pocket. Nothing therefore 
remained for him but to play a bold game. " My dear 
Mowbridge," said he in a serious manner, "it is not my 
custom to confide my aifairs to persons in my employ, but as 
I look on you as a gentleman, I may say a word or two to 
you. For the last few weeks I have, I confess, been pressed 
for money. I have dropped my money both at the tables 
and on the turf. But all I owe has now been paid up, 
including four thousand louis which I paid yesterday to 
Oxwall. I have now plenty of money in hand, and the 
twelve hundred pounds which I shall pay you after the race 
will in no way inconvenience me." 

The name which the Count had just mentioned had a great 
effect on Mowbridge ; he knew Oxwall perfectly, and de- 
termined to go and ask him if M. de Sartilly had settled 
with him. For the moment the treacherous jockey was in a 
great state of perplexity. He asked himself which course 



An Honest Jockey 311 

would pay him the, best, and he almost had made up his 
mind that it would be safest to run straight. By doing so 
he would pocket the Count's thirty thousand francs, and also 
retain the ten thousand that he had received on account. 
The person who had given them to him dared not make any 
complaint. Mowbridge therefore ran no risk, and had it 
been merely a question of swindling an unknown person, he 
would not have hesitated for a moment. But there was 
Malvina, and she would not submit to any deviation from 
his given word, and would certainly take some terrible 
vengeance on him should he do so. She was perfectly 
capable of insulting him publicly on the course, and in any 
case she would refuse to ratify the loving promise she had 
made him. Farewell then the dinner after the race, farewell 
the happy meeting and everything. It would be too bitter 
a thing to renounce these joys and to have gazed into the 
promised land without being permitted to enter it. 

" You can trust to me as I trust in you," continued Sartilly. 
" Be at Longchamps early, and meet me at the weighing- 
house, and we will have a last talk. You shall tell me how 
you intend to ride Snowflake, and I will give you my ideas as 
to the best way to defeat his competitors, only one of whom 
is, I think, to be dreaded." 

" Cash-on-Delivery, you mean ; but I am not afraid of him." 

Sartilly was about to explain to Mowbridge, who knew a 
great deal better than he did, what he ought to do to win the 
race, when an unexpected apparition cut short his speech. A 
little while before Domingo had come to the fence of the pad- 
dock, but he had not dared to enter it. And then, after the 
man, came the master, for it was George Cezambre who now 
made his appearance. Gontran did not know the motive that 
had brought the youthful lover of Diana to the paddock, but 
he had no desire to avoid him, and, as he foresaw that the 
conversation might prove an angry one, he prepared himself 
for it. " Very well, then, my dear fellow," said he to Mow- 
bridge, " we will resume this conversation shortly at Long- 
champs. That gentleman who has just made his appearance 
has evidently something to say to me, and I must find out 
what he wants." 

Mowbridge was only too glad to make his escape, and 
bade his master a temporary farewell, with many protesta- 
tions of his devotion. 



CHAPTEE XXXV 

" IS SHE WORTH IT ? " 

As soon as he had left, Sartilly advanced to meet George, 
who, on his part, came up with his head erect and his brow 
clouded with anger. One detail of his appearance struck 
Gontran, whose keen eye allowed nothing to escape him, and 
this was that the young man wore a white tie, and that his 
unbuttoned overcoat showed that he was in evening dress. 
He had put on this the evening before when going to the 
club, where it was not thought good form to appear in morn- 
ing attire after six o'clock. He had evidently not changed 
his dress since he had left the baccarat table, and so Sartilly 
concluded that he had not returned to the Auteuil villa during 
the night, and wondered for a moment how he had passed it. 
But George allowed him no time for conjecture. He came up 
to him, and without any preliminary began the conversation 
in this aggressive manner : 

" I have an explanation to demand of you." 

" On what subject, if you please? ; ' asked Gontran. 

" Mile, de Ganges left Auteuil yesterday at three o'clock 
on horseback, and she has not yet returned." 

" I am sorry for you, but what have I to do with it ? " 

" You must tell me where she is." 

" I am entirely ignorant. You did not place her in my 
guardianship, and if she has chosen not to come back " 

" But I know where she is ! " 

" Well, if you know, why do you ask me 1 " 

" She is at your house." 

" Do you think so V asked the Count in his most insolent 
manner. 

" I am sure of it," answered George, who began to see that 
he was getting worsted in this battle of words. 

" If you are sure I will not venture to contradict you," re- 
turned Sartilly, with the same air of sarcasm. " But what 
are you trying to get at 1 " 

" I want satisfaction." 

" Satisfaction for what 1 " 

" For your ungentlemanly conduct." 

"Keafly, sir, your conduct is too extravagant. Even 



" Is She Worth it " 313 

admitting that Mile, de Gange8 is at my house, you do not, I 
suppose, accuse me of having carried her off by force 1 Had 
I done so, your best course would have been to denounce me 
to the police authorities. It would not have been exactly the 
abduction of a minor, for the lady whom you are seeking for 
is of an age to consult her own wishes, but still, it would be 
an abduction ; and provision is made for such a crime by our 
criminal code, and it would then be my turn to ask you for 
your reasons for accusing me of so villainous an action." 
" I do not impute anything of the kind to you ; I am quite 

ignorant of what occurred in the Bois de Boulogne '' 

" Ah ! then it was in the Bois de Boulogne that " 

" lime, de Saint Senier told me last night in this 
house, that you had met Mile, de Ganges yesterday at four 
o'clock in the Bois de Boulogne."' 

" Amiable Countess, how well I recognise your handiwork ! '' 
" Was this true or not ? " 

" I do not see that I am obliged to answer you, for should 
I say ' yes,' it would not follow that I had carried off my wife's 
late companion, who might easily have come with me of her 
own free will, and in that case I do not see what cause you 
have to complain of me." 

" Mile, de Ganges was my mistress." 

" Certainly, no one denies that ; but I am not your friend, 
indeed I hardly know you. You were introduced to me by 
M. de Senier, and we exchanged a word or two. Last night 
you won a great deal of money from me at baccarat, which 
perhaps you may consider placed us on an intimate footing. 
It is true that some time back you introduced yourself into 
my house under circumstances which gave me the right to 
kill you on the spot had I been able to catch you. It is not, 
therefore, this nocturnal adventure that has cemented our 
intimacy. I have never therefore, been compelled by social 
etiquette to have any care or regard for you ; and in taking 
your mistress, I have not been wanting in any of the courtesy 
which one gentleman owes to another. If I became — which 
Heaven forbid — the lover of Mme. de Saint Senier, her 
husband would have the right to demand satisfaction, and I 
should not refuse him, for I have lived on intimate terms 
with him for the last ten years ; but you, sir, are an entire 
stranger to me, and I owe you nothing, not even an expression 
of regret, for anything that may have occurred." 

George began to perceive that he had made a false start, 
and that in this stormy scene his was not the most, dignified 
position, for he was not of sufficient experience to stand his 
ground against an adversary like Gontran, who was able to 
preserve all his coolness, because he had no love for any one, 



314 Fickle Heart 

and who was a perfect master of language from being accus- 
tomed to the world, and to all manner of difficult positions. 
Had he not overcome the resistance of his father-in-law, and 
were the attacks of a boy of twenty, utterly unacquainted 
with the world, to drive him from his position 1 He knew 
well what he was doing in permitting him to believe that 
Diana had of her own free will sought the protection of the 
Count de Sartilly. He had stated the fact openly to Lisa, 
and he felt that the day would not pass without Lisa telling 
her young master what had passed between them, who would 
then curse Diana, and refuse to see the faithless woman 
again. It was, therefore, best to come to a finish with the 
infatuated lover, so he continued : " Believe me, sir, that if I 
refuse to fight you, it is because a duel will injure us both 
very much in the eyes of the world, and might also prove 
prejudicial to — to one in whom you are interested. I certainly 
have reason to complain of you, but I have not cherished any 
resentment, and I have not the slightest personal animosity 
against you. If you have any against me, you are wrong, 
for permit me to tell you that it is not on me that you should 
vent your anger for an unpleasantness that you have been 
subjected to for the first, but I daresay not for the last time 
in your life. Later on, when you have had more experience, 
you will know what women are worth, and will more easily 
console yourself for their infidelities." 

As he thus preached to his unfortunate rival the advan- 
tages of resignation, Gontran eagerly watched his expression, 
and saw that his eloquence had not been entirely lost. 

" Besides," added he with a smile, " if you absolutely insist 
on a duel ; I will not baulk you. A meeting of that kind 
gives a young man just entering life a certain position ; and 
I can therefore understand your trying to bring one about. 
Only the present excuse would be a bad one, and we can 
easily find a better. As long as you continue to lead a 
fashionable life in Paris, remember the saying : ' He who has 
a woman on his hands, has also war ' You will no doubt, 
have many more mistresses, and amongst them you may 
perhaps find one who will be worth drawing your sword for." 

These last words, uttered with such subtle treachery, 
wounded George to the heart. The Count evidently meant 
that Diana was not worth fighting for, and George began to 
believe that he might after all be right. If, as everything 
seemed to point out, Diana had, after a short conversation 
with the Count, consented to follow him, she was of no 
more account than those nymphs who, driving round the 
lakes, seek their lovers amongst the passers-by. 

" I repeat to you, sir," continued Sartilly, " that, if you 



Indecision 315 

insist upon it, I shall not refuse you satisfaction, though I 
contend that I owe you none, and as an explanation for our 
reasons, we can say that I trod on your foot, or that you 
looked at me askance. It will be a foolish excuse, but a 
better one than fighting about a woman, and I certainly 
don't want to be laughed at." 

Then, as George still remained silent, he went on : " I there- 
fore will hold myself at your disposition, in two or three 
days. If I ask this delay, you can well understand it is not 
to shirk out of the affair. You are aware that I have a 
horse entered in one of the races to be run to-day at Long- 
champs, and I shall spend all my time on the course, and to- 
morrow I shall have no time at my disposal, not even an 
hour to my self,, for I shall have to settle and to send back 
my horse to Mortcerf, where M. de Saint Senier and I have 
an extensive training stable. I therefore beg you not to 
send your seconds to me before Tuesday or Wednesday, if 
you still persist in your intention after having thought well 
over it during that time. And now, sir, permit me to leave 
you. I have some last orders to give to my stud-groom, and 
I am anxious to get back to Paris." With these words the 
Count turned round on his heels, whilst the miserable George 
turned and fled like a madman. 

" Betrayed," muttered he, " she has betrayed me ! It was 
sufficient for her to meet this man once again — ah ! she has 
never loved me." 

Lisa could have undeceived him ; but Lisa was hanging 
about the neighbourhood of the house in the Avenue 
d'Eylau, watching for Francis, to tell her the truth about 
Mile, de Ganges. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

INDECISION 

Who has not seen the race for the Grand Prix ? The appear- 
ance and the humours of this day have been described a 
hundred times, and the day has become as popular as the 
public fetes in the Champ Elysees or the Champ de Mars 
used to be. And that day is not the only one that attracts 
its thousands. From April to June each Sunday is marked 
by an enormous exodus amongst the Parisians, who emigrate 



316 Fklcle Heart 

in vast numbers by every means of locomotion to the far- 
spreading course of Longchamps. The rain, which injures 
the roads and puts out the fireworks, does not stop the lovers 
of racing. They come all the same, and tramp bravely 
through the mud ; but when it is a fine day there is even a 
denser crowd. And on this morning, the day after Diana had 
met with her accident, the sun rose bright and clear in a pure 
sky. Fifty thousand spectators had massed themselves 
together to witness Snowflake's victory. As usual, the book- 
makers had been amongst the first comers. About twelve 
o'clock they had taken up their positions near the tent of 
Rouze, the lemonade seller to the Society for the Improve- 
ment of the Breed of Horses. There are bookmakers of all 
classes, from the highest to the lowest. From the lemonade 
seller's tent extend four long streets, if we may so call them, of 
bookmakers, containing something over four hundred of them. 
Of course, here as elsewhere there are places reserved for 
the more eminent men of the profession, and the ends of 
these streets are occupied by men of known standing and 
respectability. These generally have a good and exten- 
sive connection, and book heavy bets. Further off are others 
who will take small bets of five francs, or even less. There 
is generally some eagerness amongst the bookmakers to 
commence busiuess early, and those who do so, usually con- 
trive to reap the greatest benefit. The true aristocracy of 
the bookmakers however has its quarters near the weighing- 
house. These men sometimes realize enormous profits, but 
occasionally experience gigantic losses ; for example, when 
all the favourites come in winners, and when they do busi- 
ness on credit with well-known sporting men, who do not 
always settle promptly, sometimes not at all. Oxwall knew 
what he was about very well ; this skilful man had a foot in 
each of the two camps. He did business more in the weighing- 
house where he met his wealthiest customers, but he did not 
disdain the course in pursuance of the principle that little 
brooks make great rivers. This day, as he was going to 
fight a tremendous battle over the Produce Stakes, he was 
here, there, and everywhere, taking up all Snowflake's backers, 
the odds upon the horse haviDg only fallen a little, but 
fighting rather shy of laying against Cash-on-Delivery. He 
believed that Mowbridge's concurrence had been obtained, 
and imagined he was acting on a certainty. He felt the more 
certain from having seen Malvina, when first he came upon 
the course, hanging about the enclosure round the weighing- 
house, so as to have a word with the jockey as he passed, 
and to keep him steadfast to his promise by fresh engage- 
ments. Malvina had gone security for Mowbridge, and was 



Indecision 317 

to be trusted. Oxwall had also met the Count de Sartilly, 
and had politely offered to take all he might wish to lay. on 
Snowflake. On his side Sartilly relied absolutely on the 
fidelity of his jockey. Which was the one who was deceiving 
himself, the Count or the bookmaker 1 for since the promise 
of thirty thousand francs, Mowbridge had been in a state of 
indecision. 

After his conversation with George, the Count, who was 
highly pleased with himself, had returned to Paris, and 
breakfasted at the Cafe Anglais with an excellent appetite. 

He did not wish to return home until the close of the day 
which was to decide his future. What could he do then ? 
He had made all arrangements to prevent Mile, de Ganges 
from communicating with anyone outside, and the doctor had 
declared that he could not until to-morrow give any opinion 
regarding the injured girl. 

Sartilly therefore drove back straight to Longchamps, and 
arrived there in time for the first race. 

There were five races, and the Produce Stakes was the 
third on the list. He had therefore plenty of leisure to make 
inquiries on all sides as to the state of the odds, to get on 
his money, and to talk with all his club acquaintances, so as, if 
possible, to silence the sinister rumours of all kinds which 
were still flying about. His object was to show himself as 
much as possible. He was dressed in most correct sporting 
costume, more haughty than ever, and perfectly confident in 
himself, for he well knew from experience that in a position 
of difficulty he must by force of manner crush fools and 
cow evil-speakers. He commenced his business by going and 
looking at the ladies of good society who were seated in the 
stands; talking for a few seconds with some of the fast ladies 
of the highest standing, to show that neither his domestic 
troubles nor the tightness of the money market had for 
a moment had any effect upon the irresistible Sartilly, who 
had always retained the reputation of a victor in every 
respect. And in this he had succeeded, for no one thought 
for a moment that there was anything wrong with Snowflake's 
running, and the horse still held its place in the betting. 
Sartilly would have preferred that his horse should have 
gone back in the market, for he could then have put on an 
amount which in the case of his winning would have 
relieved him at once from all his embarrassments. 

M. de Saint Senier appeared to be less confident, though lie 
had backed the horse for a heavy sum ; he had escorted his 
wife to the grand stand, and had taken up his position at the 
weighing-house, where he hoped that she would not come to 
trouble him. 



318 Fickle Heart 

On his way thither Gontran had come across a man that 
he would willingly have dispensed with meeting, and that 
was Henri Trevieres, whom two months previously he had 
run through the shoulder. The meeting had been un- 
expected, and both men had feigned not to see each other ; 
but Gontran could not refrain from enquiring if this man, 
who had been formerly almost betrothed to Valentine, and 
who was still an intimate friend of M. Vacheron's, had not 
been set on to dog his footsteps as a spy, so that he might 
report his manner of acting since he had signed the agree- 
ment. At any rate, this was not the moment to seek a fresh 
quarrel with him, and he was not letting his mind dwell on 
the meeting, but was making his way to the enclosure, when 
he felt himself pulled by the sleeve. It was Mme. de Saint 
Senier, accompanied by the inevitable Baroness, and as she 
pulled his sleeve she whispered, " And so you have carried 
off the beautiful Diana ! " 

Sartilly was half inclined to answer her rather rudely ; 
but he was anxious to avoid a scene, and so he said nothing. 

" Her lover is looking for her everywhere," continued the 
Viscountess, without the smallest amount of reticence. " Just 
fancy, last night at the Madrid " 

" Yes, yes, I know all that story," interrupted Gontran. 
" I was this morning at Borne's, and they told me all about 
it. By a piece of good fortune your husband was not with 
me at the time." 

" And do you think that my husband would have been 
angry with me because I had supper at the Bois with a lady 
friend ? Why, my dear fellow, where can you have sprung 
from I You ought to know that there is not an ounce of 
jealousy in Saint Senier. He is not like your tine George 
Ce'zambre. Aha ! there is a sucking Othello for you ! How 
he is running after his red-haired woman ! He was walking 
about the Bois all night " 

" Yes, and you took care to tell him that Mile, de Ganges 
was at my house. It was most kind of you ! " 

" What ! you have heard that ? Then you have seen the 
distracted lover 1 " 

" Yes, Madame ; I saw him this morning, and be has tried 
to pick a quarrel with me, thanks to the information with 
which you supplied him." 

" You are an<j;ry with me 1 " 

"" I ;. Lk. L'l tL i y„>>: •; fellow wants a lesson he shall 
have one, but later on. And I shall be pleased if you will 
for the future cease to interfere with my actions, and if my 
request has not sufficient weight with you, I shall have to 
apply to your husband." 



Indecision 319 

" There you go, and threaten me with Old Bogey ; but, 
remember that to-morrow the secret you affect to hold will be 
worth nothing. I mean with reference to this — shall we say 
elopement. The more you try to hide it, the more the story 
will get abroad, and I warn you that you will not easily get 
rid of the little Creole, for he is here now." 

" What, is he on the course ? " 

"Certainly ; I saw him on the lawn, lost in the crowd 
that came in at a shilling a-head. He is wandering about 
like a soul in purgatory." 

Gontran hardly expected to hear that George Cezambre 
had come to the races, and he wondered what could have 
induced him to do so. 

" Are you surprised that he has come to Longchamps ? " asked 
Mme. de Saint Senier with a smile. " Do you suppose that he 
would have shut himself up in his cottage at Auteuil to weep 
over his vanished mistress 1 You have not judged him 
rightly. He may be full of sentimentality, dear boy, but he 
has any amount of pluck, like all his fellow countrymen." 

Sartilly felt half inclined to reply " Then he resembles 
you ; " but he restrained himself because he had no time to 
waste. 

"Yes," continued Mme. de Saint Senier, "instead of 
resigning himself he is looking everywhere for his fine red 
girl and I tell you that he will look for her until he finds her, 
for he says that you are not the man to conceal your 
successes and that Diana is not the woman to hide herself, 
hence he expects to find her in an open carriage alongside 
the course. If he finds her, there will be a pretty set-to, 
and if you don't care to be mixed up in it, dear boy, I 
advise you not to quit the weighing enclosure." 

" Mile, de Ganges is not here," answered Gontran, " so 
your creole will have his search in vain." 

" What," said the lady, " has she stayed at home ? Do 
you mean that she has missed this opportunity of showing 
herself in all the splendour of her changed circumstances ? 
I did not believe that she was so modest, and I cannot under- 
stand how she could make up her mind to deprive herself of 
so public a triumph, for it would be a real triumph, would it 
not ? She was only a companion to the Countess, and she 
has taken her place entirely, and heaven knows that was 
enough to turn her head and induce her to show herself at 
Longchamps, had it only been for the sake of vexing your 
wife."" 

Gontran now lost his patience entirely, and endeavoured 
to break awayfromthis malevolent woman, but she went on — 
" For your wife is here." 



320 Fickle Heart 

" Have you seen her 1 " asked Sartilly, eagerly. 

" No, but she is sure to put in an appearance. Why, I 
have just seen her old lover, M. Trevieres, the man you gave 
such a pretty sword-thrust to three weeks ago. But he is 
all right now 1 Why, he doesn't even wear his arm in a sling, 
and if, as I wouldn't mind betting, the Countess has come 
here privately, I am pretty sure that it is to meet him. She 
is very likely hidden in a closed carriage, and has sent him 
out to reconnoitre. She wants to know what you are going 
to do with your horse, and what chance he has of winning. 
You will meet her emissary at the weighing-house, and 
then " 

" Madame," interrupted Gontran, driven to desperation, 
" you compel me to tell you that your behavour is abomin- 
able. I have listened to you from courtesy, but even that 
has it limits, and I beg you for the future never to address 
me again, as I will not answer you." 

With these words he plunged into the crowd, leaving the 
Viscountess to compiainof his discourtesy to the little Baroness, 
who laughed in her sleeve at the snub that her friend had 
sustained. Sartilly believed that Mme. de Saint Senier was 
not wrong in asserting that Valentine had come to the race, 
and he would have been pleased had she done so, but he 
would willingly have known it for certain, even had she 
come there under the escort of her former lover, for he might 
then have profited by such a piece of imprudence on her 
part ; but he had much to do before he could verify the fact, 
and there were matters that just now were of more import- 
ance to him than Valentine. 

He therefore went into the weighing enclosure, which 
everyone was just then leaving to seethe first race run. The 
jockeys had now left the scales, and were already mounted, 
and moving towards the starting-post. The place was 
almost empty, and Mme. de Saint Senier, instead of follow- 
ing him, had retired with the Baroness to their seats in 
the Grand Stand. Sartilly looked for Mowbridge, whom he 
had not seen since the morning, and who ought now to be 
here, for Snowflake had already arrived under the charge of 
Dick, and was being walked up and down until the saddling 
bell rang. He could not see his jockey anywhere, but his 
friend Mussidan came up to him and drew him aside with a 
pre-occupied air. " My dear fellow," said he, " I am most 
uneasy. The adverse rumours are gaining ground, and the 
story is going about that Mowbridge has been bought over by 
one of your opponents, and that he will not ride on the square. " 
" That is ridiculous," returned Sartilly ; " but how can I 
stop the mouths of fools and liars ? " 



Indecision. 321 

"Yes, but that is not all." 

" What more can they say ? " 

" Why, on my soul, I have heard fellows say that you 
have laid against your horse ; they are full of it over there." 

"I should like to know who ventures to say so, and if you 
could point out one to me you would be doing me a great 
favour. I would treat him in such a manner as would close 
his mouth, and prevent others from beginning to talk any 
more." 

" I should be glad enough to give you their names, but I 
don't know them myself. People can come in here as they 
like. All they have to do is to pay twenty francs. It is 
impossible to know everyone that you meet, but I tell you 
again that the thing is talked about everywhere, especially 
amongst the bookmakers." 

" I hope that William Oxwall is not amongst those who 
accuse me ? " 

" Oh, no, he has denied the thing pretty sharply, and has 
asserted that you have backed Snowflake heavily." 

" He is right, and I will put on more yet if I can find any 
of them ready to take me." 

" Oxwall is ready. He is ready to take all bets from those 
who want to back your horse, and he gives better prices. 
With the others it is four to one, whilst he does business at 
ten to one. So everyone crowds round him, and he is willing 
to do business with all of them. If Snowflake wins Oxwall 
must smash up, however big a sum he may have at his back, 
for his losses will be simply enormous." 

" Do you complain of that '] " asked Sartilly, ironically. 

" Certainly not ; but his behaviour makes me uneasy. 
Oxwall is too fly to go head-long to ruin in the way he is, 
and if he is laying as he is doing, it is because he has the 
straight tip, which we have not got." 

Sartilly could say nothing to refute this line of argument, 
but he obstinately refused to see the danger which his friend 
pointed out to him. 

" Pooh, pooh," cried he. " Oxwall is as likely to make a 
mistake as anyone else. He has put faith in the rumours 
from the stable, the origin of which I know." 

" What, you know how they came about 1 " 

" Yes, my dear fellow : the person who has set them going 
is as much interested as I am in Snowflake's winning, for he 
has laid heavily on him and wants to get some more on. 
In talking as he does he has had no other reason than to get 
his money on at better prices ; the trick is not a very fair 
one, but it has succeeded, since the horse has gone back in the 
betting." 



322 FicHe Heart 

"Ah," muttered Mussidan, " are you sure of this 1 " 

" Believe me, my dear fellow, the layers will learn to their 
cost what the rumours that are going about are worth. 
Oxwall will be had on toast. As for the insinuations 
against me I disdain them, and as a proof I shall make a 
point of showing myself openly during the race." 

" Well said, and I will be at your side ; but it seems to 
me that your partner Saint Senier ought to be with you. 
Where the deuce is he 1 " 

" I was talking with him a short time ago, he can't be far 
off; perhaps he has left here to avoid his wife whom I just 
now met." 

" Yes, I can understand that," exclaimed Mussidan, 
entirely re-assured. " He has no fears, and I am glad, for he 
is fidgety, and sometimes gets 'funky,' and I had rather that 
his serenity should not be disturbed. And now I must 
leave you ; I see our jockey down there, and I wish to give 
him his last orders as Saint Senier is not here. You are 
perfectly satisfied, eh 1 " 

" As far as a man can be who has risked forty thousand 
frances to win ten thousand ; at any rate I live in hope ; 
but see, they have started. I must hurry and see them 
come in." 

Sartilly gladly allowed him to leave, and hurried to where 
he saw Mowbridge, who appeared to be searching for his 
employer. He had on his racing attire (yellow jacket with 
red bauds and green cap), and in this costume his meagre 
frame looked like a monkey dressed up as a parrot. " I have 
been waiting for you," said Gontran, angrily. 

" Excuse me, my lord," answered Mowbridge, without 
appearing at all embarrassed, " I have been stopped by two or 
three bookmakers who wanted to make me talk, and I had 
great trouble in getting rid of them." 

" I am not at all astonished that they should have 
questioned you, for they tell me that you are going to lose 
this race on purpose." 

" All the better if they believe it. You can then get on 
at evens up to the start. The rot that I talked in the 
tavern has taken effect, it seems." 

This was said with such an air of truth that Sartilly had 
no more doubts as to the honesty of his jockey. " Well," 
said he, " let us drop that. How do you intend to ride 
Snowflake : do you mean to hold him in, or to let him have 
his head from the beginning ? " 

Mowbridge started back like a barrister who is pestered 
by a client before the trial, who wants to know how he is 
going to open the case. "My lord," said he, gravely, " since 



Indecision 323 

you do me the honour of asking me my intentions, this is 
what I intend to do. Snowtlake is an admirable horse, a 
perfect horse ; he has speed and bottom. Cash-on-Delivery 
his only dangerous opponent, is perhaps a little quicker, but he 
has less staying power. I accordingly think that I should try 
and tire him out. I shall therefore press him hard at the 
beginning, so as to make his jockey believe that I intend to 
make the running. He will at once begin to push him, and 
1 shall play my game at the start. I shall then relax my efforts 
a little so as not to be distanced, and let him gain a couple 
of lengths — no more, for Cash- on- Deli very is a grand horse. 
J shall pick him up again at the descent, we shall be neck- 
and-neck at the last turn, and I shall win in the straight run 
in by a head, without using whip or spur." 

" Excellent," exclaimed Sartilly, " I can see the whole race 
before me, as you do, and I am certain you will beat Cash-on- 
Delivery ; as for the others they are not in it." 

" Not one of them. I know the lot, and I don't think 
there is a ' dark horse ' amongst them, and therefore, I hope 
that your lordship approves of my plan ? " 

"Perfectly, it was just the one that I should have proposed." 

" It is the best, indeed the only one. Your lordship will 
not therefore be alarmed it Cash-on-Delivery seems to walk 
away from me at the beginning ? " 

"I" shall be so little alarmed that I shall take advantage 
of the opportunity to put more money on, if there is any 
one simple enough to take my offers." 

" That is a new dodge," replied Mowbridge, with a smile, 
" and I would do the same, only one can't bet on horseback." 

" Well, well, you know that I have engaged to prevent 
your losing anything. I shall have the greatest pleasure in 
handing you the thirty thousand francs I promised you after 
the race, for you will have earned them honestly, and I shall 
be your debtor. I shall give you them out of my own 
pocket, and have not even said a word about them to my 
partner." 

The jockey's eyes shone brilliantly, and Gontran guessed, 
that unbelieving as Mowbridge had been up to the last 
moment, he now put faith in the promise, when he knew 
that M. de Saint Senier had nothing to do with this liberal 
present. 

if Mowbridge changed his mind, Oxwall would have to be 
the loser by this new decision, and the only hope for the 
bookmaker was that Malvina should see the jockey before 
the race was run. " I thank you, my lord," answered Mow- 
bridge, " and I beg that you will rely on me ; have you 
any other instructions to give me ? " 



324 Fickle Heart 

" None. You are aware that the committee have decided 
that you are to carry six pounds, on the plea that your weight 
is " 

" Yes, yes, ray lord, I know that ; don't be alarmed, Snow- 
flake can carry that easily enough, and ten more if necessary ; 
but now if you will permit, I will go and have a look at the 
horse, for I see that the second race is over, and this place 
will soon be crammed." 

" Go, my good fellow. I willjiwait you here. Come back 
in a quarter of an hour." 

Mowbridge hastened to get away in the direction in which 
the privileged bookmakers had taken their stations, on the 
outside of the enclosure. He had on his arrival noticed 
Oxwall surrounded by eager backers, but he had not dared 
to go up to him, lest he should be accused of plotting with 
him ; but he earnestly desired to say two words to him 
before starting, for though he had no longer any doubts as 
to the generosity of M. de Sartilly, he could not yet quite 
believe in his solvency, and he was determined to learn if the 
Count had, as he affirmed, paid the four thousand louis that 
he owed to Oxwall. The moment was a propitious one. The 
backers had moved away on to the course, and Oxwall had 
just lighted a cigar during this brief respite. " Well," 
exclaimed Oxwall, " so it seems that you are going to win the 
Produce Stakes in a canter 1 " 

" One is never sure of anything," answered the jockey, 
modestly. 

"And very lucky too, for where should we bookmakers 
be if the favourites were always the winners ? I don't mind 
telling you, my boy, that if your horse wins, I shall be ruined 
root and branch, but of course in our business we have to 
take some risks." 

" It will put some money into my master's pocket, and it 
seems that he wants it badly enough." 

" Well, no, things are not so bad as that, he dropped a lot 
at the earlier Spring Meetings, but he has picked himselfup 
somehow, and the proof of it is, that he paid me yesterday 
the eighty thousand francs that he owed me." 

Oxwall was a sharp man, and yet he did not see that in 
saying this he acted like a schoolboy. He imagined that 
Mowbridge had been gained over by the seductions of 
Malvina, and bound hand and foot by the large sum that 
he had received on account, and he never for a moment 
suspected that he would break the promise that he had 
made, and that the fact of telling him the actual resources 
of the Count de Sartilly, would decide him to act faith- 
fully and honourably. Mowbridge said no more on the 



Indecision 325 

subject, but decided within himself to earn the Count's 
promised reward, and keep the money that Malvina had 
brought him, though he was willing to spend it with her. 
He therefore exchanged a few trivial remarks with the 
bookmaker, and went off to Snowflake, who was being 
walked about the paddock by his lad. Now that he had 
determined to act on the square, he was not going to neglect 
anything to make his winning a dead certainty, for your 
experienced jockey never omits to examine and caress his 
horse the last thing before mounting it. Dick, who per- 
ceived Mowbridge, whom he detested, coming up to him, 
continued to walk his horse up and down, and Mowbridge 
was about to tell him to stop, when he heard a voice calling 
out, "John, John." He turned sharply round, and saw 
Malvina, leaning against the railings of the paddock making 
signs to him to come and speak to her. 

Mowbridge was not half-pleased with this invitation for 
he foresaw that Malvina had come there to remind him of 
his promise, and to cross-examine him with the view of 
finding if he was still steadfast to his engagement. He had, 
however, no means of avoiding this, unless, indeed, he broke 
with his fair friend entirely, and this he had no desire to do. 
He thought that as he would have to tell her the truth 
some time or other, he might as well do so before the race, 
so as to give her the chance of acting accordingly, and he 
hoped to persuade her to come over with him to the side 
of M. de Sartilly. He therefore went up to her, and as he 
did not care to talk across the railings, he left the paddock, 
and took her into a remote corner. Malvina at once opened 
the conversation. " "What were you saying to Oxwall ? " 
for she was anxious to learn if the jockey had found out 
that she had been sent to him by the bookmaker. 

" I asked him if the Count had paid him the eighty 
thousand francs which he owed him 1 " 

" Indeed, and what had that to do with you ? " 

" I wanted to know if he was solvent." 

" What does that signify 1 You have not to look to him 
for a reward." 

" He promised to give me thirty thousand francs if his 
horse came in fh-st." 

" Promising is one thing, and paying another. Your fine 
Count is not worth a rap." 

" Yes, he is, for he paid Oxwall all right." 

" Ail the more reason that he should have nothing left. 
Yqu will be a fool if you count on getting anything from 
him, and besides you have promised to lose the race. Have 
you not had something on account 1 ten fine bank notes, 



326 Fickle Heart 

and the rest to be paid down this evening ? What, you say 
nothing ! Have you by chance any intention of throwing 
me over at the last moment 1 " 

" No, but I have thought over it, and I think that we 
might arrange to get a profit on both sides." 

" I don't understand you." 

"And yet it is most simple. You have given me ten 
thousand on account ; well, we will divide it, and I will give 
you the third of my thirty thousand francs for yourself. 
You will be a gainer by this, and I shan't risk being debarred 
from riding." 

Mile. Martingale flew into a rage at once. " Do you 
think that I would accept such an offer 1 " cried she. " Do 
you think that I am no better than you, you cowardly cur 1 " 

" Not so loud, people may hear us," pleaded Mowbridge. 

" I don't care," answered Malvina. " I wish I was in the 
centre of the ring, so that everybody might hear what a 
.scoundrel you are, a rogue that sells himself to the highest 
bidder. Look here, just win the race and I will out with 
the whole truth, I have nothing to lose. No one can do 
anything to me, and I shouldn't care if they could. But you 
shall be kicked out, even if Sartilly tries to keep you, for the 
members of his club all think that there is something on be- 
tween you and he. He'll have to turn you out, my little man, 
and he will take the opportunity not to pay you your thirty 
thousand francs that you count on, like a fool as you are. 
So you will have cheated me for nothing." 

" You would not do that I " 

" Would I not ? As true as you are as ugly as an orang- 
outang, I would do so, even if it were only to show my 
employer that I was not in the swim with you." 

" Your employer !" repeated Mowbridge. 

" Yes, the man that gave me the money to pay for your 
bit of blackguardism. At least you can give it back to me." 

" I have not got it about me, but I should much prefer to 
share it with you, as I proposed." 

" But I won't have it. I am an honest girl in my way, 
and I prefer to show you up ; and I won't hesitate to do so. 
\nd so you took a fancy to me, did you, and thought to do 
me without my paying you off? You make a mistake, little 
man, and it shall cost you dearly. And when I think of 
what you wanted besides the cash ; this English owl must 
needs want a French dove, a Parisian lady. Malvina 
Martingale is meat for your masters, and as for your 
dinner, you may go and hang yourself." 

Mowbridge was overwhelmed by this torrent of abuse, 
and cut but a sorry figure, and the threat to break off all 



Indecision 327 

connection with him touched the most sensitive portion of 
his heart. He hesitated, and began to think that perhaps 
after all he had better throw over Sartilly, and revert to 
his first arrangement. Malvina noticed his indecision. 

" Listen," said she, looking him full in the face, " I can 
hardly believe that you are a thief, and if you keep this 
money you will be nothing better, but you have yet time to 
turn yourself round. If you are going to throw us over, I 
must let my friend know, so that he may not get any deeper 
in the mire, and to do that I have not an instant to lose, for 
they are ringing the bell to clear the course for the third 
race. So decide." 

" And if I let myself be beaten you will meet me this 
evening 1 " 

" Of course I will ; was it not agreed ; I don't go back 
from my word." 

" You will come, then, in spite of all the unkind things 
that you said just now 1 " 

" What did I say ? That you were ugly 1 Well, what of 
that ; I suppose you do not pretend to be as handsome as 
the Apollo Belvedere. Besides, beauty does not mean money. 
Get along, I shall like you just the same." 

These words so full of promise weighed down Mowbridge's 
last scruples. 

" You wish it," said he, devouring Malvina with his eyes. 
" Very well, then, Snowflake shall not win." 

" Good ; and I promise that you shall not repent making 
him lose." 

" Only I warn you, that after the race, I shall maintain that 
it was not my fault that he was beaten." 

" So that you may not be disqualified from riding again. 
I see no reason why you should not do so." 

"You understand that I should like to get something on 
each side." 

" The same as I want my ten thousand francs that have 
been promised me ; that is only natural." 

" Yes, but look here ; suppose the person that is going to 
find the money refuses to pay up on the pretext that I did 
nothing to make the horse lose." 

" Ha, ha ! You think of everything, I see. Love does 
not make you lose your head ! but re-assure yourself. I 
charge myself with explaining everything to our capitalist. 
He is an artful one, a regular old fox, who will perfectly un- 
derstand that you can't go boasting about having sold the 
race. I don't know how you will arrange matters with 
Sartilly, but I give you my word that the other one shall 
pay up this very evening." 



328 Fickle Heart 

" Then rely on me. I know a means of doing it without 
compromising myself a bit." 

" All right," answered Mile. Martingale, who had learnt a 
few turf terms from the grooms and trainers. " Listen, there 
goes the bell. Go and get weighed, John. I shall get a 
place at the ropes, where I can see yoxi come in second or 
third ; for I suppose you are not going to get yourself dis- 
tanced ? that would be too ridiculous." 

" This evening then." 

" Yes, at the spot we agreed on ; " and Malvina ran off 
merrily, whilst Mowbridge went to Snowflake, who, however, 
was not now alone with Dick. M. de Sartilly had at last 
come across his partner, and they were both talking with 
Dick, who, according to his custom, answered them only in 
monosyllables. 

" Ah, here you are at last," said Saint Senier. " You ought 
to have been here half an hour ago." 

" I was here three quarters of an hour ago," answered 
Mowbridge, coolly ; " ask M. de Sartilly ? " 

Gontran hastened to plead in his favour, saying that he 
had been consulting him as to the best method of riding 
the race ; but Saint Senier continued, addressing his con- 
versation to the jockey: " I am much dissatisfied with you. 
You pass your time in drinking-places, gossipping with the 
grooms of other stables. I won't have this, and if you 
continue it, I shall have to dismiss you." 

" As you like, sir," returned Mowbridge, less than ever 
disposed to put up with the bad temper of the man who had 
not promised him any reward for winning. 

Sartilly nudged his companion as a hint that this was a 
bad time in which to find fault, and managed to make him 
keep quiet. The moment for weighing had now arrived, and 
Dick received orders to lead up Snowflake, and also to bring 
the saddle and bridle which are placed in the scales with the 
jockey. Twelve horses were entered for the Produce Stakes, 
and of these nine were coming to the post, so that the opera- 
tion of weighing would necessarily take some time. Saint 
Senier, always disposed to quarrel, began to wrangle with 
one of the committee as to the weight Snowflake was to carry, 
and Sartilly turned to speak to Alfred de Mussidan, who 
came up at that moment. 

" My dear fellow," said he, " you have converted me. I 
have just backed your horse for five hundred louis more." 

" And you have done right. I have been talking to the 
jockey, and the thing is certain." 

" I have got good prices too. So you have found Saint 
Senier, I see ? " 



The Bacc. 329 

" Yes, he is growling like a surly dog." 

" Why, is he grieved at having left his wife for a moment?" 

" I think he has heard these tales about Mowbridge, and, 
not being in the secret, he is angry with him, whereas we 
ought to thank him for enabling us to get our money on at a 
better price." 

" Saint Senier is a brute," said Mussidan, who never 
stopped to pick his words. 

" I won't contradict you ; but see, Mowbridge is in the 
scales. Let us get closer." 

Mowbridge was being weighed, and the stewards were pro- 
ceeding to arrange the extra weight that he was to carry. 
This is done by the insertion of pieces of lead into little 
pockets in the saddle cloth. Each piece of lead is of a fixed 
weight, so that it is very easy to put in the exact amount. 

This was soon over, and Mussidan wished to draw Sartilly 
away to obtain a favourable position to see the race. 

" I don't want to have that fellow Saint Senier next to me," 
said Mussidan. 

" Nor I either. Let us leave him to squabble with the 
stewards and be off, though I should have liked to have said 
a last word to Mowbridge." 

" My dear fellow, don't say too much to him. There are 
plenty of ill-disposed people about just now, who will assert 
that you are telling him to let his horse get beaten. Let 
Saint Senier go with him to the starting post. No one 
suspects him." 

" No, but I fear that he will irritate Mowbridge, and if he 
is put out he never rides so well." 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

THE RACE 

Sartilly was not wrong when he dreaded the interference of 
his partner, for Saint Senier was just in the humour to find 
fault with everything, and though John Mowbridge did not 
attempt to retaliate, he had his revenge ready prepared ; 
besides, Gontran could do nothing to hinder the outbreak of 
his partner's bad temper, and he was confident in the favour- 
able termination of the race after his las.t interview with 



330 Fickle Heart 

his jockey. He accordingly left the enclosure with Mus- 
sidan, and elbowed his way through the crowd to the place 
reserved for those who had horses entered for the races. 
Seats had been kept for them near that occupied by the 
President of the Committee of Stewards. Sartilly carried 
slung over his shoulders a powerful racing glass, which 
would enable him to watch the race from start to finish, 
and now he turned it on the immense crowd which 
blackened the lawn, and on the line of carriages drawn up 
alongside of the ropes. H3 had often before gazed on this 
curious spectacle, and it was not to admire it that he swept it 
with his glass. He had suddenly recollected that he had heard 
that M. Trevieres was at Longchamps, and he wanted to find 
out if Valentine was here also. He would have been glad to 
catch sight of her, for more than one reason, yet look 
where he would, he could not manage to see her anywhere. 
But after some time he recognised Trevieres, standing on the 
box of a closed cab and gazing eagerly at the stand, as if he 
were looking for some one. Was the Countess de Sartilly 
hidden in this cab ? It was possible, though hardly probable. 
However, it was impossible ffor Gontran to assure himself 
of the fact, as to reach the cab he would have had to cross the 
course, which was now being cleared ; besides, for the moment 
he had other matters to think about. The horses and their 
jockeys made their appearance, and moved slowly to the 
starting post, whilst, with his flag under his arm, the starter 
walked across to take up his position. All the nine horses 
that were to run were ready, and one or two of them were 
indulging in a preliminary canter. 

A sudden movement took place amongst the general 
public, who moved in two different directions, some being 
anxious to witness the start, and the others the finish. The 
more aristocratic visitors remained in the weighing enclosure, 
where they could comfortably see the whole race. Sartilly 
and Mussidan were surrounded by their acquaintances, and 
the former noticed that many eyes were fixed upon him ; 
it seemed a.s if he was watched with a feeling of un- 
friendly curiosity, and this was a convincing proof of the 
general belief that he had given his jockey orders to lose the 
race. It was all very well for him to have ostensibly backed 
Snowflake, but it was generally believed that he had laid 
heavily against him by commission. But he cared little for 
the opinions of the hostile and jealous element, for he felt sure 
that the victory of his horse would serve to utterly confound 
them. How he congratulated himself on having giving up his 
former project ! Had he listened to that scoundrel Oxwall, 
and drugged his horse, he felt sure that he would pot hayp 



The Bate 331 

escaped from the crowd with his life. They would willingly 
have murdered him, and in a few minutes they would be 
ready to carry him in triumph. 

A large number of the sporting fraternity had backed 
Cash-on-Delivery, and at a first glance it did not seem as if 
they had invested their money badly. 

Cash-on-Delivery was a magnificent sorrel, with all the 
points of a fine horse about him. He was the property of a 
French trainer very popular in the sporting world, in which 
he enjoyed 4he reputation of being thoroughly honest and 
straightforward. He had secured the services of a well- 
known jockey, who had ridden many winning races. This 
jockey had afar higher reputation than Mowbridge, but was 
not so we 11 built for his profession, and the extra weight 
which his opponent carried far more than counterbalanced this 
disadvantage. He cordially hated Mowbridge, who returned 
the compliment with interest, and he had in addition so 
great a contempt for him that had Malvina's lover attempted 
any roguery during the race, he would not have hesitated to 
denounce him to the stewards. There were many supporters 
of his black jacket, who hoped to welcome him as he passed 
the post as a winner. Whatever might be the result, it was 
certain that there would be a sharp struggle for the Produce 
Stakes, and, despite the implicit confidence that Sartilly 
placed in his horse and jockey, he was still far from easy in 
his mind. 

Mussidan, on the contrary, had lost all his nervousness ; the 
assertions of Gontran had completely re-assured him, and all 
he was anxious for was to get more money on. The occasion 
offered itself before the horses got away, for grumbling 
Colonel Tarsac, who was standing just behind them 
exclaimed — 

" I will back Cash-on-Delivery for ten louis." 

" Done with you for fifty if you like," cried Mussidan. 

" No, sir, ten louis is enough for me. I do not gamble, I 
only wish to encourage the improvement in the breed of our 
own horses, and Cash-on-Delivery is not an English horse." 

" Your patriotism will cost you ten louis, my old soldier," 
muttered Mussidan, as he booked the bet. 

The horses were ranged in line before the starter, who as 
is usually the case had much difficulty in starting them. 
There were two false starts, but at the third time, as the flag- 
dropped, the nine competitors got away together. A partial 
silence soon succeeded the shouts which had greeted the 
first burst, and a dull low murmur arose, like the distant 
roar of the rising tide. Sartilly had lowered his glass, whilst 
Mnssjcjan kept his to his eyes, Gontran wanted fx> see thp 



332 Fickle Heart 

two favourites together so that he might judge if Mowbridge 
was following the tactics that it had been arranged before 
the race were to be followed. Mussidan, who had not been 
informed of the plan, followed every detail of the struggle, 
and loudly announced each event as it occurred. "They 
are both in front," exclaimed he, still gazing through his 
binocular. " Cash- on- Delivery on the inside ; what a pace 
they are going at 1 I am astonished at the way Mowbridge 
is riding — he knows that his horse has any amount of stay- 
ing power — -what does he want to hustle him along like that 
for % There he is ahead, but Cash-on-Delivery keeps well up 
to him. That is what I call good, honest running ; the rest 
are behind in two lots, quite out of the race." 

" They are coming to the rise ; it is there that the race 
will be settled. Mowbridge slackens his pace, he is right ; 
the other still presses on, he gains a head, now n. neck — ah, 
we shall see what we shall see — artful Mowbridge." 

The spectators near the two gentlemen were all eyes for 
the race. The spectators on the lawns and the ladies in the 
carriages gazed after the horses, whose forms were now 
plainly delineated against the background of the trees. A 
confused shouting began to be heard, though it was hardly 
possible to distinguish the precise words. 

" There is a length between them now," cried Mussidan. 

" Snowflake is a length behind. Mowbridge is holding 
him in, and he knows what to do, as long as he does not hold 
him in too long." 

" He has been bribed to keep him back,'' cried a voice ; and 
a hundred other voices took up the chorus that the jockey 
had been bribed, and the race was sold. 

■It is a swindle. Wait until after the race, and " 

"Two lengths behind now," said Mussidan. " The race is 
lost. Ah ! the thief, if I had only known." 

Sartilly never blenched. Mowbridge was doing exactly 
as had been arranged. He looked scornfully on those who 
surrounded him ; then his voice rang out clear and decisive, 
" A thousand louis, even, on Snowflake." 

" Done with you," cried one of the largest speculators on 
the turf. He was the only one who took the bet, but the 
murmurs ceased as if by magic. 

Sartilly, by this stroke of audacity, silenced those who 
were commencing to accuse him, and he hoped to gain the 
thousand louis which he had risked, as he had so many 
before them, for Mowbridge seemed again to be gaining 
ground. 

Mussidan recovered his courage, and continued to announce 
the incidents of the race. "Now Mowbridge is letting out 



The Baco 333 

his horse. Mowbridge is picking him up again ; it was a 
plant to pump the other. Cash-on-Delivery's jockey can feel 
that Mowbridge is almost on him, and is doing all he knows. 
His whip will soon be at work. Mowbridge is coming up 
hand over hand. How the fellow rides ; it looks as if he 
was lifting his horse along with his knees." Then all at 
once he exclaimed, " Halloa ! what is he doing now ; he is 
stooping over on the right side, and is only holding the reins 
in one hand — but there, he is upright in the saddle again. 
Ah ! I see it all. He thought that his saddle was turning, 
and felt the girth to be sure that it was all right. Now he 
is all right again, and Cash-on-Delivery is going to learn a 
lesson." 

He was perfectly right. In a few bounds Snowflake, 
skilfully ridden, had come up with his opponent, and now 
that they had reached the descent, was gaining visibly on the 
sorrel, who was more than half blown. The opinions of the 
spectators of this exciting struggle began to change. Those 
who had been abusing Snowflake and his jockey were now 
silent, and would in a very little time commence to cheer 
him. Mowbridge had kept all his promises ; at the last turn 
he was knee to knee with his adversary, who was already at 
work on his horse ; and in the straight run in he passed him 
with seemingly hardly an effort, and won easily. It was a 
magnificent sight, and numberless voices hailed Snowflake's 
victory. Hats flew up in the air by dozens on the lawns, 
and even in the more select enclosures. Many a hand was 
stretched out to grasp Sartilly's, who was half mad with the 
joy that he strove to conceal ; but a little more and they 
would have borne him aloft in triumph. 

The public spread over the course, and the winner of the 
race had some difficulty in forcing a passage to the weighing- 
house, where the stewards of the race were in waiting to 
verify the fact of the weights being the same as they had 
been at starting. Saint Senier was with his horse, for he 
had taken up a position close by the judge's chair to witness 
the triumph of his stable, and had made up his mind not to 
leave his horse again until it was extricated from the crowd. 
For sometimes disappointed turfites will endeavour at that 
instant to do away with some portion of the horse's equip- 
ments, so as to prevent the animal being proclaimed a 
winner, and an experienced owner will watch over his horse 
himself, and not permit anyone to touch him. And the 
number of the disappointed was very great. The majority 
of the backers had certainly put their money on Snowflake, 
but still a great number had fancied Cash-on-Delivery, the 
more so as the rumour had got about that Sartilly's jockey 



334 Fickle. Heart 

was not going to ride fairly. These last were furious, and 
would willingly have ill-treated Mowbridge, whom they 
accused of having himself set these reports afloat. Nor 
were the bookmakers satisfied, for the victory of the 
favourite had cost them dear. Gontran was intoxicated with 
delight ; he felt like the shipwrecked mariner who finds 
himself again on the surface after having sunk fifty feet 
below the surface of the waves. He had gained an enormous 
sum of money, which would enable him to set his father-in- 
law at defiance ; and, to crown his joy, just as Snowflake 
came in he caught sight of Valentine perched on the box of 
the cab with M. Trevieres by her side, and clapping her 
hands with all her might. Two recognitions, from which 
he hoped to draw some advantage as soon as he had got in 
the money he had won 

But of all the bookmakers Oxwall was the most furious, 
for Mowbridge's perfidy had ruined him. Just before the 
race, he had left that portion of the lawn on which he had 
been doing business, and had taken up a position from which 
he could see the race ; and in a contrary manner he had 
passed through the same agonies of suspense as the Count 
had, and the blow fell all the heavier because up to the last 
moment he had believed that Mowbridge was acting in 
such a manner as would prevent his being accused of unfair 
riding. During the race, Malvina had joined him, and they 
were both in a terrible state of consternation at the unlooked- 
for result. " You are a nice one to confide a delicate bit of 
business to ! " said Oxwall, " why, I had thought that you 
were a sharp girl, but you are as great a fool as the rest of 
tliem. You have let that Mowbridge walk into you nicely, 
and your infernal folly has lost me all I had in the world . 
I am half inclined to ask myself if you and he were not 
in the plot to swindle me. T saw you talk to him before the 
race. Surely he told you that he was going to throw me over, 
aud yet you never came and gave me the slightest warning. 
At any rate you can give me back the ten thousand francs 
that I handed to you to buy that thief with." 

" You know well enough that I haven't got them," returned 
Malvina, sharply. " I gave them to Mowbridge yesterday, 
and it is not my fault if you are in a hole. How could I 
guess that he would play me this trick? it is he that you 
ought to be mad with. This will teach you to do your dirty 
work yourself. I did not come to look for you : it was you 
who prayed and besought me to undertake the commission, 
and I did it as well as I could ; and you have no right to say 
the things you do to me." 

" If you are not satisfied you may go to the devil." 



The Harp. :S: , ,5 

" I'll first go and have it out with Mowbriclge. He has 
sold me, but 1 will make him repent it to the last day of his 
life. I will let it be known everywhere that he took money 
to lose the race. I will tell his employers so, and they will 
kick him out. I will shout it from the very house-tops." 

" That won't give me back the ten thousand francs that he 
has had of mine, or the hundreds of thousands that I shall 
be obliged to shell out. I expect even now that the backers 
are looking for me, and some of them will say that I have 
made a bolt of it ; which is the best thing for me to do." 

'' Come, you are not so badly off as that." 

" You think not ; well, you will see." 

" Wait and be sure that Snowflake has won. A race is 
never sure until the number goes up, and there is none 
up yet." 

"Yes," answered Oxwall, ironically. "I have a couple of 
minutes to the good yet, like the criminal has when he 
comes out of prison to go to the guillotine, and then I shall 
see No. 5, Snowflake's number, go up. He won by half a 
length, and it is impossible to lodge an objection." 

" Well, no one can say what may happen ; they are in no 
hurry to put up their No. 5. See everyone is looking up — 
the bookmakers are all ready, but not one of them has yet 
paid, over Snowflake." 

She was right, and the sight was a curious one. Each 
bookmaker was besieged by a dense crowd, holding their 
tickets in their hands, but no payments are ever made until the 
customary words "All right" have been given. Oxwall, 
who belonged to the aristocracy of the corporation of book- 
makers, and who did his business in the inner enclosure, 
felt that an equally large crowd was waiting for his appear- 
ance, and that these were not men who were wanting only 
small sums from him. '' I say," said Malvina, " look there ! 
it seems as if there was some kind of fuss going on. They 
are making signs from the top of the stand." 

Her eyes had not deceived her : a man on the roof of one of 
the nearest stands was flourishing an umbrella as though 
making signs to some of the bookmakers below. Oxwall 
understood this code of signals that some of the bookmakers 
employ to ascertain the favourite in the ring before the race 
is run. For this they have two agents, one of whom listens 
to the heavy backers in the ring, and signals his news to the 
one on the roof, who transmits it to the bookmakers. There 
is an arranged code by which each number is shown by a 
certain gesture ; but after the race the layers do not receive 
their information from the same source : they pay a man 
whose sole duty consists of coming out of the ring and shout- 



336 Fickle Heart 

ing with the whole force of his lungs the words which 
announce that the race has been legitimately won, and that 
they can pay up. At this instant one of these men came 
running along at full speed, with his hands at the side of his 
mouth so as to form an impromptu speaking-trumpet. He 
was still at such a distance that they could not hear what he 
said, but Oxwall fancied that he could distinguish the fatal 
words "All right." 

" It is all over," groaned he ; " I may as well blow out my 
brains." 

" "Wait a bit, old man," cried Malvina, who had sharper 
ears. " He isn't saying ' All right,' he is shouting ' Don't 
pay.' " And as a proof that she had heard correctly a formid- 
able commotion began amongst the crowd, many of whom 
were seen shaking their fists at the bookmakers. 

" Can it be possible 1 " muttered Oxwall, half suffocated 
with joy. 

"Certain," cried Malvina ; "an objection has been lodged, 
they have found out Mowbridge in some devilment, and he is 
going to pay for it. Hurrah, Hurrah ! How pleased I am." 

" I must know what it is all about. I shall go into the 
enclosure. You may come with me if you like," 

"Come with you? I should think I would," cried Mile. 
Mai-tingale. 

It was easier to attempt to enter the weighing enclosure than 
to penetrate into it, for the news that an objection had been 
lodged against Snowflake had caused a violent rush from all 
sides. Everyone tried to get as near as possible to the spot 
where the judges were in debate, and the result was a 
terrible crush. But Oxwall had strong arms and a sturdy 
pair of shoulders, and he cleft his way through the crowd, 
dragging Malvina after him, who clung tightly to his coat, 
for "she never hoped to be permitted to enter the enclosure 
which was closed to ladies of her position. She was in great 
glee, and her delight had almost turned her brain. She 
asked herself how Mowbridge had contrived to lose the race 
when he appeared to have won it, and what dishonest trick 
he had made use of, or whether after all it might not be some 
frivolous complaint brought forward by a discontented 
jockey. 

She had forgotten a few words which would have cleared 
up the mystery. On leaving her he had said, " I know a 
means by which I can satisfy Oxwall without compromising 
myself." What means was this ? Malvina did not care a 
bit as long as it debarred Snowflake from winning the race. 
But would it do so 1 This was a serious question which was 
already being discussed by the stewards, and it was evidently 



Checkmate to Master and Man. 337 

Hot settled, as no number had yet gone up. Oxwall and 
Malvina were still struggling to cross the course, when an 
immense shout rose up and told them that judgment had 
been given, and they saw " No. 9" go up — the number of 
Cash-on-Delivery. This time it was an official declaration, 
and there was no mistake. The horse which had come in 
second was proclaimed the winner. This was all that the 
bookmaker and the friend of the jockey required. Their 
day's work was complete. 

" I knew that my John would keep his word," exclaimed 
Malvina. 

" Come to me after the last race," said Oxwall, quickly, 
" and I will give you your ten thousand francs." 

"And the fifteen thousand for our worthy friend 
Mowbridge ? " 

" Yes, if he can prove that he lost the race on purpose," 
muttered the bookmaker between his teeth ; then leaving 
Mile. Martingale where she was, he hastened away to where 
a crowd of impatient sporting men were awaiting him. 



CHAPTEE XXXVIII 

CHECKMATE TO MASTER AND MAN 

What was passing in the enclosure whilst there was so much 
anxiety on the lawn 1 There was no difficulty in learning 
this. Snowflake had returned to the weighing-house ridden 
by Mowbridge and guarded by Saint Senier. Sartilly had 
joined them, and was being congratulated by the very 
persons who a short time before had cursed and abused him. 
There was nothing more to do except for the jockey to go to the 
scale. This operation is usually a mere formality, for it rarely 
occurs that the scales do not record the same weight as they 
did before the race. Sometimes, however, an accident 
happens, and instances have been known of an unfortunate 
jockey losing a race from having dropped a stirrup-iron. 
Mowbridge had not done anything like this, but when lie 
was weighed it was found that he was two pounds under 
weight. It was easy to discover how this had happened, for 
one of the weights had dropped out during the race. Mow- 
bridge asserted that it had fallen out without his perceiving 

z 



338 Fickle Heart 

it, and pointed out that the species of pocket in the saddle 
cloth for holding the extra weight had not been properly 
fastened. On examination this fact was proved, but a 
decision was at once given to which no one dared to object, 
not even the owners of the horse. 

It was an extraordinary scene. Saint Senier was in a state 
of consternation; Gontran perfectly crushed ; Mowbridge had 
put on a most melancholy expression of face ; whilst those 
who had backed the horse were either swearing or lamenting. 
No one as yet dared accuse the jockey of having played this 
trick in obedience to his masters' orders, or rather one of his 
masters, for no one for a moment suspected Saint Senier 
But every loser had the same thought in his mind, and afar 
off could be heard the growling of the storm which was soon to 
burst forth with terrible violence. One man who had backed 
the horse for a small amount requested to make a statement to 
the stewards, and deposed that at the moment when Mow- 
bridge allowed Cash-on-Delivery to pass him at the incline he 
saw him bend down and place his hand on the saddle cloth. 
Several others corroborated this, saying that they too had 
witnessed this » suspicious movement, and had Alfred de 
Mussidan chosen to come forward he could have said the 
same, for he had mentioned the incident whilst he was 
describing the race to those around him. But for the moment 
there was no question of going into Mowbridge's conduct ; 
for had the otfence been brought home to him, in order to 
inflict the penalty which the rules of the Jockey Club have 
ordered for jockeys guilty of fraud or dishonest riding, a 
strict inquiry would have had to be instituted, and for the 
moment the duty of the stewards was simply to order 
Casli-on-Delivery's number to be hoisted as winner of the 
Produce Stakes. 

After this order had been given Mowbridge slank off, as 
much to avoid the reproaches of his masters as to hide him- 
self from the wrath of the losers, who would willingly have 
torn him to pieces on the spot. 

Sartilly and Saint Senier stood looking at each other, and 
the more miserable of the two was not Saint Senier, though 
a heavy blow had been dealt him. He had lost a very large 
sum of money, but still he could meet his losses, whilst 
Sartilly was utterly ruined as well as being dishonoured, for 
he was now openly accused of having planned the defeat of 
his own horse. His friends, if he had any left, shrank away 
from him, and even Mussidan, who had countenanced him 
up to the very last, did not care now to be seen with a man 
who was so terribly compromised. No one but Sartilly 
himself could fathom the abyss into which the treachery of 



Checkmate to Master and Man 339 

the villainous Mowbridge had hurled him, for he alone knew 
the position in which he stood with his father-in-law, who 
could crush him at once by denouncing him as a perjurer, a 
forger, and a poisoner. Sartilly had also placed himself 
beyond the pale by not fulfilling the engagements into which 
he had entered with M. Vacheron, and could not release him- 
self from the fearful predicament into which his own 
criminal acts forced him, and he could see no other exit but 
that of self-destruction. 

But he had not yet done all the evil that he wished ; and 
before dying he wanted to revenge himself on all those that 
he hated, on George Cezambre, on Trevieres, on Valentine, 
and the old contractor, and thus to make victims of those who 
had so often united to save him. He left the weighing 
enclosure without taking any notice of his partner, who made 
no attempts to detain him, and sought to gain the lawn, 
where he hoped to be able to find the cab in which his wife 
had come to the race. As he passed through the crowd he 
was overwhelmed with the most cruel insults, more cruel 
than actual manual violence. The members of his club 
shrank back from him as though he had been smitten with 
1 he plague, whilst hundreds of voices sang in his ears the 
famous chorus from La Favorita, " Alone he remains — with 
dishonour." And this was but the commencement of the 
troubles that beset his path. In front of the grand stand he 
met Mme. de Saint Senier, who, wonderful to relate, was 
looking for her husband. Misfortune attracted this evil- 
minded woman as carrion draws the vultures together. She 
was in haste to glut her eyes with the sight of the victims, 
and as Sartilly was the first that she came across, so was he 
the first to receive a volley of insolence from her. 

" Well," cried she, loud enough to attract the attention of 
the bystanders, " so we are shamefully beaten. Your jockey 
has done his part, unless indeed it was your stable boy. I 
know now why the little villain would not let me come 
near his horse. I suppose he was just going to poison it, yet 
the poison could not have been of very excellent quality, 
since Snowflake came in first in spite of it, but Mowbridge 
chucked away his weight all over the course, and so the race 
was lost. How much did you make by the robbery ? " 

" Madame ! " 

l; Oh ! don't be in a rage. Everybody knows now that you 
laid against your own horse. I expect that my husband will 
be angered. Will you bring me some news this evening of 
your beautiful Diana ? " 

A crowd had by this time begun to collect, but the 
Viscountess seemed in no haste to finish her tirade. 



340 Fickle Heart 

Sartilly, by dint of pushing, forced his way through the 
ring around him, but could not escape the last shaft that she 
hurled after him. 

" By the way," cried she, " your wife is over there in a cab 
with her beloved M. Trevieres. Make haste if you want to 
see her. The coachman is on the box, and has the reins in 
his hands." 

Sartilly escaped from the lady's objurgations by throwing 
himself into the crowd, which the police were now beginning 
to drive back in order to clear the course, and as soon as he 
had gained the lawn he turned his steps towards the line of 
carriages ranged by the side of the ropes, seeking to find the 
spot at which he had caught sight of the cab. 

A cab which had just drawn out of the line came towards 
him ; he stepped on one side to avoid it. Valentine's head 
appeared at the window. She caught sight of her husband 
and at once drew it hastily in, and sank back into her seat 
by the side of her former betrothed Henri Trevieres. The 
coachman whipped up his horse, and the vehicle drove off, 
carrying with it the last hopes of Gontran de Sartilly. 

Gontran had yet cherished the hope of once again reconquer- 
ing his wife's affection : it was the only chance that remained 
to him, and he had made up his mind to play his last card by 
going up and speaking to Valentine without exactly knowing 
what means he should adopt to enter again into her good 
graces. Should he seek another quarrel with TreVieres, 
pleading as his excuse a fit of jealousy 1 Should he 
assume the air of a heart-broken man, who has come to plead 
for pardon. He had made no settled plan, but had hoped to 
be inspired by circumstances, for he never doubted but that 
he still preserved his ascendancy over his victim. 

But all his hopes of a reconciliation passed away with the 
cab, as it rolled off the course. Valentine had grown pale as 
she recognised her husband, but she had looked coldly on 
him, and in her features he could read the expression of a 
feeling more imperishable than hate — that of utter contempt. 
It was all over. The ruined Count had nothing further to 
expect from the weakness of his wife. He must give up all 
hope of softening her heart, or of seeking for her pity over a 
ruin which she would not perhaps believe. He thought 
that she had attended the race to convince herself that the 
reports that were flying about had no foundation ; they must 
have come to her ears, and she had wished to know if the 
man she had loved so fondly in by-gone days, had descended 
so low as to plot with jockeys and bookmakers to rob his 
friends. She had applauded with all her heart when his horse 
had come in first, and at that moment Gontran, rehabilitated 



Chcrkmatc to Master and Man 341 

by Stiowflake's victory, might once more have touched her 
heart. But now it was too late. The news of the fraud 
having been discovered, and of its prompt punishment by the 
winner being disqualified, had spread like lightning over the 
course and M. Trevieres had doubtless told Valentine all, 
and she, when she heard the news of his dishonour, had con- 
demned him without a thought of further pity. 

This was the first time that he had borne the punishment of 
a sin which he had not committed, since he had changed his 
mind at the last moment. It was true that he had intended 
to do so, and that if the intention makes the crime, he was 
in this case morally guilty. But he had to make up his mind at 
once as to his future mode of action. His wife had escaped him, 
but all was not lost for all that. He could no longer live in 
Paris with a blighted reputation, and hunted down by his 
creditors ; but with an income of three hundred thousand 
francs, a man can live well anywhere. There was nothing to 
prevent him carrying out his agreement with M. Vacheron, 
and leave for England the next morning. 

The only thing that he now regretted was having carried 
off Mile, de Ganges. Before his misfortunes he congratulated 
himself on having done so, but now he felt that she would be 
terribly in his way, the more so that she was not at present in a 
tit state to follow him to London, where he was anxious to 
proceed at once so as to draw the first quarter "of the 
allowance that his father-in-law had engaged to pay him ; 
and he had no scruples in abandoning her, unless indeed 
when her health was restored she agreed to cross the Channel 
in order to join him. Just at present he did not care about 
seeing her again. Dr. Pontier was there to look after her ; 
he could easily wait for news of her until the next day, and 
he did not wish to see anyone until he had come to some 
really definite conclusion as to his future movements, and he 
had therefore half a mind to go and sleep at Versailles or 
Saint Germain, so as to avoid all unpleasant meetings. It 
was easy enough to do this. He had only to walk to the 
nearest station of the Central Railway, and change at the 
Saint Lazare Terminus. He carried out his project, and 
crossed the course without meeting George Cezambre, who 
as Mme. de Saint Senier had told him, was wandering about 
the place looking, not for Sartilly, but for his lost Diana. 
George could think of nothing but his mistress who had dis- 
appeared so strangely, and he had hoped to come across her 
at Longchamps ; for he did not for a moment guess that whilst 
he was looking into every carriage hoping to see her, she, 
poor girl, was lying with a fractured skull in the very 
chamber where she had formerly dressed George's wound. He 



342 Fickle Heart 

had paid no attention to the racing and was utterly ignorant 
of Snowflake's disqualification. What cared he which horse 
had lost or won. All he wanted was an explanation with 
the faithless girl who had left him, and had he encountered 
his hated rival, he would have been unable to resist the 
temptation of insulting him, and insisting on an immediate 
meeting. It was however doubtless written that he should 
not fight with Gontran de Sartilly, nor did he even perceive 
the Countess who was hidden away in a cab. But whilst he 
was wandering about amongst the vehicles, he suddenly found 
himself face to. face with Lisa, who had been seeking him for 
over an hour. After her short conversation with Gontran 
through the railings, she had kept about the neighbourhood 
of the house, watching for Francis who had seen her, and 
who would doubtless come in search of her as soon as his 
master had gone away. But the valet did not make his 
appearance, and Lisa, after having spent all the morning 
waiting for him, had decided at twelve o'clock to return to 
Auteuil. She had learner! enough to give some information 
to Mile, de Ganges' lover and she hoped to find him at the 
villa, to which he had not yet returned when she had left on 
her morning's voyage of discovery ; but she only found 
Domingo, whom George had sent home after his altercation 
with Gontran, and who told the maid, that his master had 
gone to the racecourse. Domingo also told her all that had 
taken place at the Madrid, and so the intelligent girl had set 
off for Longchamps, where she hoped to find M. Cezambru. 
She had reached the course; at two o'clock, and had sought 
for him everywhere, and was about to give up the search in 
despair, when she met him. 

" All ! sir," said she, "if you only knew " 

" 1 know all," interrupted George. " She followed that 
man, who took her to his house : I had fancied that he would 
have brought her here, and that is why I came." 

"To the races? Why, Mademoiselle is ill, and I believe 
dangerously hurt." 

" Have you seen her 1 " 

"No, the Count has forbidden anyone to enter her room." 
"Who told you this?" 

" No one. I could not get hold of Francis, the Count's valet, 
or I would have made him speak, but I caught a glimpse of 
Dr. Pontier leaving. He was the Countess's doctor, and they 
would not have called him in if one of the servants had been 
ill, so I am sure that he came to see Mademoiselle." 

"Yes, I understand all now, — she had a fall from her 
horse." 

" Domingo, who brought the horse back to the villa, told 



Checkmate to Master and Man 343 

me the same. Mademoiselle must have fallen, and the Count 
who was passing by picked her up, and carried her off to his 
house. She must have been unconscious, or she would have 
never consented to have followed him." 

" And the scoundrel carried her off. How was it that I did 
not guess it all sooner. I was sure that he was an insolent 
liar, when I spoke to him this morning at the Madrid. He 
asserted that Mile, de Ganges had asked him to take her 
away — and I believed him. I have cursed her, and have 
been seeking for her in order to reproach her with her 
treachery — but there is yet time to save her from that man. 
Come with me ; we will go to his house at once." 

" You will not get in, his servants have orders to let no 
one pass." 

" What do I care ? I will call on the police for aid. I will 
go in in spite of anybody. M. de Sartilly has no right to 
kidnap a woman." 

" He will deny that he has done so ; he will swear that 
Mademoiselle came there of her own free will and accord, and 
he will say that you are acting from motives of jealousy. The 
police will not dare to search the house ; but there is the 
doctor who lives close by, and can give you full information 
about her, though I fear he will say nothing, for he is 
devoted to the Count heart and soul." 

" I want to see Diana, and I will see her. Don't come with 
me if you are afraid." 

"Afraid ! not I, but I have a means of getting to 
Mademoiselle without running any risk." 
" How do you mean ? " 

" I have still the key of the private door, the one that opens 
in the Hue Villejust ; but I dare not make use of it during 
the daytime, because all the servants are about, and we 
should never get to Mademoiselle's room — I say we, because 
I hope that you will come with me. But to-night when all 
are in bed, we will cross the garden, and go up by the little 
staircase in the left wing— you know it. Then we will knock 
at her door, and she will open it." 

" If she is able to do so ; if she is not too closely watched." 
" And if she is, those in charge of her will do so, and 
surely they cannot prevent our entering." 

" I only wish that it was the Count. I long to find myself 
face to face with him." 

" I am sure that he will not be there ; indeed I should be 
much surprised if he returned home at all to-night, after the 
terrible scrape that he has got into." 
" What scrape ? " 
" What, have yqu nQt bearcj that he is accused of entering 



344 Fickle Heart 

into a plot to make his horse lose the race ; that there was 
quite a disturbance on the course, and he went off without 
beat of drum, or they would have torn him to pieces." 

" A racing swindle ! " muttered George, who had not for- 
gotten the conversation that he had overheard at the Pavilion 
d' Armenonville. 

"If you doubt me," returned Lisa, "just take a turn 
round the course, and listen to what they say. You will 
probably meet M. de Saint Senier who will tell you all about 
it. M. de Sartilly's reputation is lost, everyone is agreed on 
that ; his friends have turned their backs on him, and in my 
opinion he will be unable to remain in Paris. It is true that 
he may have made a great deal of money by this fraudulent 
transaction, but he will not succeed in taking away Mile, de 
Ganges with him, for she will never consent to follow a thief, 
and if she has not heard that he has robbed right and left, 
I will be the person to tell her of it." 

" Very well," returned George Cezambre, " I will adopt 
your plan. We will go to Sartilly's house together. What 
time shall we go ?" 

" I do not think that we ought to go before midnight. 
The later we get there the better chance we shall have of 
succeeding. I will wager that the Count will not be there, 
and the servants will not keep watch until two o'clock in the 
morning. We will therefore meet in the Rue de Villejust 
at half-past two." 

"I will be there." 

"Will you permit me to bring Domingo with me, he may 
be useful." 

" Certainly, let him come." 

" Very well then, that is settled. If you have no need of 
me here, I will go to M. Vacheron's in the Eue de la Neva, 
for I want to let the Countess know how her husband has 
behaved." 

" Yes, tell her that he has covered himself with shame 
and dishonour, and that he has carried off Mile, de Ganges." 

" I will not fail to do so, for I wish to cure her of all love 
for him ; to remove her from the influence of this villain. 
But let us first save Mademoiselle. After my visit to the 
Countess, I will return to Auteuil and tell Domingo what 
he has to do, and both he and I will be at the meeting-place 
at half-past two. Will you not come back to Auteuil, sir, 
for dinner 1 " 

" No, no ; go off and do what you want," answered George, 
shortly, who had something else to think of besides his 
dinner. 
As soon as George Cezambre could make his way through 



Checkmate to Master and Man 345 

the crowd, he went direct to the weighing enclosure. He 
found but few men there ; those who had dropped their 
money over Snowflake had gone, and Saint Senier himself 
was nowhere to be seen. Alfred de Mussidan however was 
there, and he at once came up to George. 

" Well," asked he, " Are you hard hit too 1 I am in for 
twenty thousand francs. 1 ' 

" Did you back M. de Sartilly's horse 1 " 

" Unfortunately I did so, and poor Gontran is worse 
off even that I am. He has lost an enormous sum of 
money." 

" People say it is just the other way, and that he has 
won heavily." 

'' You mean that he laid against his own horse ? "Well, 
for my part, I don't like to believe it until it is clearly 
proved. However, we shall learn the whole truth when the 
jockey is examined. But pray excuse me, I must leave 
you now, for I picked up two hundred louis in the last 
race, and, as you may imagine, I am anxious to get them." 

With these words Mussidan turned away from George, 
who was left hardly better informed than he had been 
before, and so moved off to the part occupied by the 
bookmakers ; not that he was acquainted with them, but 
in the hopes of picking up some stray scraps of conversation 
which might be useful to him. There, however, they were 
commencing to strike their tents, the few or unimportant 
bets ill the last race had nearly all been settled, and the 
bookmakers were conversing with each other concerning the 
incident of the day. On one point they were all agreed, 
and that was in Mowbridge's having dropped his weight 
on purpose. Some asserted that the Count de Sartilly was 
not a sharer in the fraud, since the defeat of his horse had 
utterly ruined him. Others accused him openly, and 
certainly William Oxwall was not amongst those who 
defended him. George knew him by sight, as he had 
done business with him three weeks before through M. de 
Saint Senier's introduction, and had won twenty thousand 
francs from him by backing Black Radish. Saint Senier 
had told him that Oxwall was one of the richest and most 
respected of the bookmakers on the turf, and he was loud 
in his condemnation of Sartilly's conduct. George therefore 
doubted no longer, the less so when he recollected a certain 
conversation which he had overheard at the Pavilion d' 
Armenonville. Nothing, therefore, was left for him but to 
await patiently the time appointed for his meeting with 
Lisa. Worthy Mr. Oxwall was in the seventh heaven of 
delight. Atonestrokehehad doubled his already large fortune, 



346 Fickle Heart 

and had got three quarters of his debts in. The few remain- 
ing backers of Snowfiake who still owed him money were 
all solvent, so that he had nothing to do but to pass the 
evening of a well-sj3ent day in merriment and revelry. He left 
his books and papers with his clerk, and quitted the enclosure 
with his bag full of money and his pocket-book crammed 
to bursting with bank notes. His carriage, a neat victoria 
which he hired every Sunday, was waiting for him behind 
the stand, and he hastened to it so as to convey his money 
to a safe place of deposit. About fifty paces from the 
stables he was pounced upon by Malvina, whom he had 
almost forgotten, but who on her part remembered well 
enough that she had twenty-five thousand francs to receive, 
of which fifteen thousand were for Mowbridge. He made no 
effort to avoid her, though a thought had struck him which 
he for the time kept in the background. 

" Well," said she, accosting him with a smile, " and so 
the Produce Stakes have been lost and won." 

" Not lost for all of us though, - ' returned Oxwall. 

" No, no, we know on which side our bread is buttered, 
eh, Father Two-to-one-bar-one 1 " 

" I am quite satisfied." 

" I can easily believe you. But — well, I won't brag ; — 
but it is to me that you owe it all ; yes, all those pretty bank 
notes that you carry next your heart — why, there is a regular 
swelling under your coat. For had I not got hold of 
Mowbridge at the last, he would have thrown us over to 
a certainty." 

" I know that you helped me very much, and so I am 
going to pay you the ten thousand francs that I promised you." 

"And the fifteen thousand for Mowbridge. You know 
that I have to take them to him at six o'clock." 

"Ah! that is quite different. Mowbridge has no claim 
on me ; he has had more than he has earned." 

" He has had ten thousand francs, and he is waiting for 
the balance that was promised him." 

" Then he will have to wait a very long time. I would 
have paid him if he had earned his money, but there is 
nothing to prove that he has done so. He made a capital 
race of it and brought his horse first past the post, and I 
certainly shan't pay him for having done exactly what I 
told him not to do." 

" How about the weight he dropped ?" 

" He has asserted before five hundred witnesses that it 
was an accident." 

" I should think so ; why, if he had confessed it he. would 
have been disqualified from riding for ever," 



Checkmate to Master and Man 347 

" And so he will be now." 

'" Then you allow that he has some claim for damages ? " 

" I don't know if he has any claim, but I am not going 
to pay it." 

" Take care, my dear sir ; he will certainly try to be 
revenged on you, and he will repeat all over the shop the 
offer that was made to him." 

" I defy him to prove that it came from me. Everyone 
believes that it was Sartilly who bribed him." 

" But Sartilly has been ruined by his horse having 
lost." 

" That is not certain. He has lost something to me, but 
he may have backed Cash-on-Delivery with other book- 
makers. Now don't say any more, my girl, for it will be 
of no use. Mowbridge shan't have a halfpenny from nie, 
whilst you are going to take your com." 

" I don't ask anything better than that. But you can't 
think how I hate going to meet a fellow who has compromised 
himself for nothing." 

" Nothing compels you to do so." 

" He is waiting to take me to dinner ; and to tell you the 
truth, I thought to get off my engagement by greasing his 
palm with your money ; but now — -well, I shall have to make 
a sacrifice, I suppose, to console him, so that it is I, who have 
been let in more than any one." 

" How stupid you are," said Oxwall, with a smile. " Where 
do you say he was to meet you 1 " 

" In the Champs Elys^es, by the Rotunda of the Pano- 
rama." 

" Well, let him wait there ; and come and dine with me at 
the Cafe Deraud, close to the Madeleine. I will give you the 
flimseys at dessert — and if you are very nice " 

" Yes, if I am very nice 1 " 

" Why, I'll put another one on the top of them." 

Malvina affected to pause for the sake of appearances, but 
at last she flung her arms round the bookmaker's neck, 
exclaiming, " My own William, you are a darling ; let Mow- 
bridge go to the devil. ' - Malvina Martingale is not the girl 
for a monkey like him." And in a moment afterwards the 
bookmaker and the lady were rolling towards Paris in the 
victoria. 

This well-assorted couple were perfectly happy together, 
and would doubtless enjoy themselves ; but there was weeping 
at M. Vacheron's, and a melancholy drama was being per- 
formed at the house in Avenue d' Eylau, 



CHAPTER XXXIX 

THE FORTUNE-TELLER OF MONTMARTRE 

Gontran de Sartilly had fled to hide his disgrace at Saint 
Germain, and had secured a bed at the Henry IV Pavilion. 

George C'ezanibre, in the deepest grief, was walking about 
Paris, until the time for his appointment with Lisa. The great 
city appeared to him nothing but a desert now that he had lost 
Diana, and he walked through the streets without seeing or 
hearing what was going on around him. He no longer heaped 
curses on Mile, de Ganges, for he believed in her innocence ; 
and yet he could not help feeling that she was lost to him for 
ever; not that he would for a moment have refused to receive 
her back, but fond lovers are sometimes endowed with the 
gift of second sight, and he could foresee some impending 
misfortune. George had formed no plans, he could make 
none, since he was still only endeavouring to guess at the 
doings of his worst enemy, but one idea had taken firm root 
in his brain, and that was that he would kill this man either 
in a duel, or by some other means. 

Sartilly was a man of courage, and though at the Madrid 
he had refused to accept George's challenge at once, he had 
yet said, " Send your friends to me on Tuesday or Wednesday 
and you will find me ready," and this expression of opinion 
he had supported by plausible reasoning. The delay was but 
a short one, since Sunday was already drawing to a close, but 
yet he found it much too long ; however he had resigned him- 
self to forty-eight hours' delay, but trusted to chance to bring 
about a quicker conclusion. 

If the Count should happen to surprise George in his house 
there would doubtless be a violent quarrel, and if George 
struck him, then the affair could be settled on the spot ; and 
the young Creole dreamed of a duel, the details of which 
would be suddenly arranged, an encounter without witnesses, 
in some sequestered corner of the park, with no light save 
the stars that studded the vault of the heavens ; and yet he 
never thought how unfortunate those grounds had been to 
him, for had he not fallen in them, struck by a bullet dis- 
charged from a servant's pistol. If, however, the Count, less 
reckless than his young antagonist supposed him to be, would 



The Fortune-Teller of Montmartre 349 

not consent to this proposal, then George had made up his 
mind to blow out his adversary's brains, and to kill himself 
afterwards. 

With these mad thoughts traversing his mind, George 
walked on without taking any heed of where he was going, 
and all of a sudden he became aware that he had lost himself. 
After traversing the outer boulevards, he had turned to the 
left, and ascending several hilly streets, he at last arrived on 
the heights of Montmartre. He had never been in this 
quarter of the city before, and when he saw the enormous 
city of Paris stretched out at his feet like a vast sea, filled 
with houses instead of rocks, he could not help regretting his 
native island, where the earlier years of his youth had flitted 
peacefully away. Since he had set foot in this mighty 
metropolis, so ardently longed for by those who have never 
lived there, he had loved, and suffered deeply ; but his peace 
of mind and his heart's repose he had left behind him in 
Mauritius ; and at the moment he would have blessed the 
fairy who, by a nourish of her magic wand, could have trans- 
ported him to the place of his birth. But the times have past 
when fairies used to come to the aid of hapless lovers, and 
he could only look to himself to save Diana, always supposing 
that Diana would consent to be saved. He advanced to the 
edge of the descent, on the southern side of the hill, and 
contemplated the picture which lay stretched out beneath his 
feet. The night was closing in, and here and there jets of gas 
began to sparkle in the darkening mass of buildings. But 
George was in no hurry to descend again into the seething 
cauldron ; he had many hours to spend before he was to meet 
Lisa and Domingo, in the Eue Villejust, and it suited him 
just as well to pass them in this spot, far from man and the 
tumult of the city. He did not feel hungry, but, as he said to 
himself, " Should I do so, I could easily find some place in 
the neighbourhood where I could get something to eat." As 
this idea passed through his mind, a voice, which made him 
start, murmured just behind him, " Paris is beautiful by 
twilight, is it not ? " He turned round sharply and perceived 
a woman, who he was at first tempted to take for the Witch 
of the Heights, so strangely was she attired. A species of 
Arab burnouse shrouded her from head to foot, and concealed 
every feature save a pair of startling eyes. Was she a mad 
woman, a mendicant, or an adventuress. Being unable to 
decide this question, George made no reply, and prepared to 
quit a place where he was liable to meet with such perplexing 
personages. " The view from here," continued the strange 
woman, " is finer than that from the Villa des Primeveres." 

In utter amazement George looked at her, as though 



350 Fickle Heart 

seeking to find out who she was. " It is useless,'* replied she, 
as though guessing his intention. " You do not know me, 
but I know you very well." 

" Where did you know rue 1 " 

" Ah, where indeed ! I know a little of everyone. I can 
read your fortune by the cards, and to do that one must be 
well-informed. I live close here, and if you will come with 
me I will tell you things that you would be only too happy 
to know." 

" I thank you, but I do not care to dip into the future." 

<: I will only speak to you theu of the past, and the present 
— oh ! do not mistake — not of yours, but of the women in 
whom you are interested." 

" Tell me their names," cried George, eagerly. 

" I will not utter them here. I do not work in the open 
air like the mountebanks of the fail's." 

"Well, I, on my part, will not go to your house, unless you 
speak more openly." 

The veiled woman reflected for a moment. " I am willing 
to mention the name of one of them," said she, lowering her 
voice. " One is called Valentine. This ought to jrat you on 
the right track. Will you come with me now ? " 

George was in that frame of mind that recoils before 
nothing. " First tell me," said he, " why you are in this 
spot. You could not have known that I should come here, 
for I did not know it myself, and chance only brought me." 

" Chance of ten arranges things for the best. I did not 
come here to seek you. Every evening I come to take a 
walk here, and it is fortunate, both for you and for others, 
that I met you here to-night. Fear nothing, and follow me." 

" Not before you tell me what intent you have in seeing 
myself and others, as you say." 

" That is very simple. I do not intend to serve you for 
nothing, and you shall joy me for the information and the 
advice which 1 shall give you. I could make my bargain before- 
hand, but I will trust to your generosity. I am sure that I 
shall not be a loser by so doing, for you will not consider 
that you can pay too much for information which may save 
a woman's life." 

George fancied that this mysterious woman alluded to the 
dangers which threatened Mile, de Ganges, and he hesitated 
no longer. " Good," said he, " I will follow you : but let me 
warn you, I am aimed." 

" Be easy, sir, I do not wish to lead you into a trap. I 
live alone in the little house to which I am about to take 
you, and during the time that you are there you will be in 
greater security than you are in your villa at Auteuil." 



The Fortune-Teller of Montmarti'e 351 

" Very well, show me the way." 

The fortune teller at once struck into a path that 
led round the hill, turned up a little ill-paved street, and 
stopped before a strangely-constructed building, which 
seemed to have fallen from the skies on to its present site. 
" We have arrived," said she, drawing from beneath her 
burnouse a large key. The place where they were standing 
was perfectly lonely, and a murder might have been com- 
mitted there without the possibility of interference ; for the 
nearest houses were some thirty feet away, and the tops of 
their roofs only just reached the platform on which the 
strange abode of the pretended sorceress stood. The hut was 
more like a pigeon house than a habitation for human 
beings. It was of a round shape, and seemed to be falling 
to ruin. 

But the questionable appearance of the place did not intimi- 
date George, who was now resolved to see the adventure 
through to the end. 

Whilst the woman took the key from her pocket, he drew 
his revolver, and prepared to fire at the first suspicious move- 
ment of the woman who had lured him here. 

She noticed Lis preparations, and said coldly, " Have no 
fear, sir, and do not judge of my house by its humble ex- 
terior. You shall now see the inside of it. It has not quite 
the appearance of a murderer's den, and you will soon be 
convinced that no one has been killed here. Indeed, it has 
been used for a totally different purpose." As she spoke she 
opened the door noiselessly and they entered into a little 
hall, lighted by an Arab lantern of exquisite workmanship, 
which hung from the ceiling. "Do not be alarmed," con- 
tinued she ironically, " if I close the door : it is merely to pre- 
vent anyone coming in to disturb us ; not that I expect any- 
one, but this part is full of drunkards and bad characters, 
who might take it into their heads to intrude on us. Have 
the kindness to go upstairs, my consulting-room is on the 
first floor." She led the way up a staircase hung with antique 
tapestry, and George, who had followed her closely, came 
into a kind of boudoir, the walls of which were covered with 
silk ; it was furnished in Oriental fashion with divans, 
low chairs, and tables inlaid with mother-of-pearl. One 
might have fancied oneself in the harem of some Eastern 
prince, had not a modern lamp been standing on a lacquered 
stand in a corner. After a short pause the woman threw 
aside her veil and exhibited a countenance worn and 
withered by some forty years of continual dissipation. 

" You have never seen me before r i " she said, looking him 
steadily in the face, 



352' Fickle Heart 

"Never," answered he, "and now I want to know where 
lam?" 

" You are in Gontran de Sartilly's secret abode." 

" Then you have led me into a trap by his orders." 

"I have done nothing of the kind. It is fully three 
months since Sartilly set foot here, and he does not even 
guess that you are here now." 

" Enough of these riddles — answer me plainly what you 
want with me, and why you have brought me here 1 " 

" I am about to tell you, only my recital will be a long 
one. You can remain standing if you are afraid of being 
taken at a disadvantage, but permit me to sit down. My 
walk has tired me." 

She sat down as she spoke, and George, in more perplexity 
than ever, folded his arms, and waited for her to speak. 

" You do not know me," she said, " but the Countess 
Valentine is well acquainted with me, for it is not long since 
I was her maid. Mile, de Ganges must have spoken of me 
to you, my name is Florence " 

George had forgotten the name of this vile creature, but 
his memory returned to him in a moment. " Why," cried 
he, " it was you that tried to poison Mme. de Sartilly. Do 
you dare ■ ? ' 

"I dare to tell you that the Count ordered me to poison 
his wife," answered the terrible woman, without flinching, 
" but I took care not to obey him. I have not many 
scruples, but I don't gain my bread by such means. I see 
that you have heard all the story of the glass of water. 
"Well, I assure you that the Countess might have drank 
all of it without running the least risk. For I had put in no 
prussic acid, but a few drops of a harmless essence. You 
do not believe this." 

" I do not." 

" Perhaps you will believe me when I tell you my life. 
Listen to me, and you will soon understand why I hate 
Sartilly, after having been his tool for so lon'>-. You see me 
now ? Well — I was his mistress. It is fifteen years since then 
and I have had ample time to grow old and ugly. When he 
grew tired of me he offered to make me his ao-ent to 
younger and prettier women than myself. I accepted his 
offer. You see I am open. I was the slave of his pleasures 
before his marriage, and his go-between afterwards. It wa s 
a shameful position, and I can see that you despise me but 
permit me to finish my story." 

" Make it as short as you can," returned George, who felt 
a feeling of loathing rising within him. 

" I was put in charge of this place where he used to meet 



The Fortune- Teller of Montmartre 353 

his mistresses during his disagreements with the Coun- 
tess. Then the idea struck him to employ me as her maid 
when he had discharged Lisa. He promised me a heavy 
sum if I would free him from his wife, and I allowed him to 
believe that I would comply with his wishes ; and now I 
tell you that I only made a pretence of obeying him, but he 
believed that I had made use of the poison with which he 
had supplied me, and as my reward he turned me out of the 
house the day after the Countess fled, and told me to 
come here. For the last fortnight he has omitted to pay me 
the hush money that he promised me if I would not denounce 
him. I have been silent without payment long enough, and 
I will no longer show him any consideration, for I expect 
nothing more from him as he is utterly ruined. I was try- 
ing to invent some scheme of revenge when I met you." 

" Where had you seen me before 'I " 

" Driving with Mile, de Ganges, whom I know by sight from 
having seen her with the Countess. You went down the 
Avenue d'Eylau, and the servants told me that you were her 
lover. I have a good memory for faces — yes, I have a good 
memory for many things, especially for injuries that have 
been done me, and I hate Sartilly with an undying hatred, 
for having left me co die of hunger after having tempted me 
to aid him in a plot, by which I risked twenty years' penal 
servitude, if not worse." 

" Are you mad enough to think that I am going to mix 
myself up in your affairs, and serve as the instrument of your 
vengeance ? " 

" It is not a question of that ; what I want is to prevent 
Sartilly from attempting once more to strike the blow which 
he has once failed to do, and which he will succeed in this 
time if I do not hinder him." 

" I do not understand you." 

" You will do so in a moment. When Sartilly wished to 
poison his wife, it was not only to get rid of her, but to 
become her heir ; he had induced her to make her will, which 
he has in his possession, for he has shown it to me." 

" She must have cancelled it since she has been living with 
her father." 

" Sartilly does not believe that she has done so, and he 
knows the poor lady only too well, and he trusts to the mad 
passion she has for him. Indeed, it seems as if he had be- 
a\ itched her. But that is not all. He made her sign and 
copy a declaration, of which he wrote the original for her, 
a declaration in which she confesses having committed suicide. 
Had she died on the night on which she fled, this paper 
would have been found on her writing-table. I have seen it, 
and I tell you that one of these days he will make "-<' of it," 



354 FichU Heart 

" How can he use it 1 " 

" He will manage to induce his wife to meet him privately. 
She is quite weak enough to grant him this. When once he 
is alone with her, he will stab her to the heart, and place the 
declaration by the side of the body. Everyone will believe 
in her having committed suicide. Sartilly will produce the 
will, and inherit two or three million. It is all very easy." 

" If I were certain that you were not deceiving me " 

" You would warn the Countess, eh ? Well, she is at her 
father's house. The Eue de la Neva is not situated in China, 
and cabs were built for men and not for dogs. Drive there 
without the loss of a minute. I cannot prove to you that I 
am speaking the truth, but what do you risk in warning the 
father and daughter ? They will then take precautions, and 
even if such steps should be useless, you will not the less 
have rendered them an immense service." 

George could not help feeling that this depraved woman 
was right in what she said, but he could not understand why 
she had so suddenly experienced a relapse to a better frame 
of mind, boasting as she almost had done of her infamous 
career. " This, sir," continued she, " is the information for 
which I desire to be paid. No, no, not now, since you have 
doubts of the truth of my statement. You shall pay me after 
having seen old Father Vacheron, and the Countess ; and 
when you are convinced that she has foolishly signed her 
death warrant, and that her husband is only waiting for an 
opportunity to execute it, then we will talk about payment." 

George felt inclined to follow this advice, but it struck 
him that Florence's confession was incomplete. " You have 
as yet said nothing of Mile, de Ganges," said he. 

" Mile, de Ganges ! " repeated Florence, " Oh ! she is in 
no danger ; at least her life is not threatened." 

The natural way in which Florence spoke convinced George 
that she had not heard of the accident that had happened to 
Diana the evening before, and this was not to be wondered 
at as she had not seen Sartilly for some days. " You told me 
when first we met," resumed George, " that you were going 
to speak to me of two women. You have told me about the 
Countess ; now what have you to say of Mile, de Ganges 1 " 

" That Sartilly has sworn that she shall be his by fair 
means or foul. He has never forgiven her for rejecting his 
advances, when she lived in the same house with him or for 
having assisted his wife to escape ; and as he has no great love 
for you, he would be delighted to take your mistress from 
you. To do this he will hesitate at nothing, and I advise you 
to watch over her well, and this last bit of counsel I throw 
in gratis. Keep guard over your fair friend, and do not 
permit her to go about alone." 



The Fortune-Teller of Montmartre 355 

Had George received this piece of advice earlier he could 
certainly have followed it, and the helpless Diana would not 
have fallen into the villainous Sartilly's clutches ; but the 
warning had come too late, and for the past twenty-four 
hours, Diana had been at her enemy's mercy. Florence could 
be of no assistance in favouring her escape, and George had 
not sufficient confidence in her to ask her to help him. 

" You know now all that I had to tell you," added she. 
" Assure yourself that I have told you the truth, and after 
that think of me. I throw myself on your generosity." 

Florence had no hesitation in asking that her services should 
be paid for, but George was not offended at this open appeal to 
his purse, for he had no desire to evade paying the woman for 
revealing to him the vile machinations of the Count. He even 
thought that it might be best to pay her at once, so as to 
prevent her betraying him, as she had betrayed Sartilly. 

On returning to the villa after the night he had passed at 
the Madrid, he had locked up a portion of the money he had 
gained at the club ; but in order to be prepared for unforeseen 
events, he had left in his portfolio some thousand franc notes. 
He took out three and threw them into her lap so as to avoid 
any contact with so infamous a woman, and said briefly : 
" Here is something on account. If you have told the truth 
I will go even further than this." 

" And so will I," returned Florence, pocketing the note?. 
"You are now in a position to defend both the Counters 
arc! Mile, de Ganges, but you will have a rough game to play 
with Sartilly, for it is difficult to put your foot on a man <•{ 
his stamp. If you are compelled to come to the last extremitv 
with him, play the card of denouncing him to the law. Sum- 
mon me as a witness, and I will speak — and tell all that I 
know — or better still, begin by having me arrested, for I shall 
get clear, as there is no positive evidence against me ; not so 
that villain, who will be driven back to the wall. The law 
will work for us, and when he sees that it is all up with him, 
he will simply kill himself, and I do not know a conclusion 
that would be more satisfactory to all parties." 

" Where shall we find you again % " 

" Here. I shall not budge until I see you again ; but do not 
lose a minute in warning the Countess, for I know of what 
Sartilly is capable. He won't have time to have done any- 
thing to-day, as he had a horse entered at Longchamps, but 
believe me that he will try something to-morrow." 

Her assertion had the more probability in it from the fa^t 
of Snowflake's defeat, which had driven Gontran to take im- 
mediate action ; and George, who perceived this, determined to 
act at once. " I shall go to M. Vacheron immediately," said 
hs. " Show me the shortest -way." 



356 Fickle Heart 

" Come with me," returned Florence, rising. " I will take 
you to the Rue Fontenelle, from there you can get on to the 
Boulevard Rochechouart, where you will find a cabstand." 

She kept her word, and after a drive of twenty-five minutes 
George found himself at M. Vacheron's door. As soon as he 
rang the old servant opened the door, and the intelligent 
face of Lisa could be discerned peeping over his shoulder, 
M. Vacheron had told her to get her dinner in the kitchen, 
and she had hurried out at the sound of the bell. 

" Ah ! sir," said she, " how pleased her ladyship will be to 
see you, and so will M. Vacheron, and M. Trevieres, they were 
speaking about you just now ; " and before the old-fashioned 
servant of the ex-contractor could say a word, she threw 
open the door, and in a clear and distinct voice announced 
" M. George Cezambre ! " George heard exclamations of 
surprise, and the sound of chairs being pushed back, as all 
rose from the table to welcome him. On any other occasion 
George would have felt a little embarrassed, for he was but 
slightly acquainted with any of them. He had hardly ex- 
changed a word with M. Trevieres on the day when that 
gentleman had come to the villa, and he had only seen M. 
Vacheron on that when he and Diana had so nearly driven 
over him ; and his knowledge of the Countess had only arisen 
from that memorable night in February which was nearly 
having no to-morrow for him. But if he did not know much 
of them, they had heard a great deal of him ; for mixed up as he 
had been in all recent events, hardly a day had passed without 
the name of George Cezambre being pronounced in the house 
in the Rue de la Neva. Both father and daughter made him 
feel at once that they looked on him as a trusty friend ; their 
hands were extended to grasp his, nor was Trevi6res' greeting 
less cordial. Vacheron made a point of his sitting down, and 
though dinner was over, insisted on having it brought up 
again for him. 

"Lisa has told all," said Valentine. " It is too dreadful. 
Poor Diana 1 " 

The voice of the Countess quivered, and her father hurled 
a string of imprecations against Sartilly, swearing by all his 
gods, that he would not leave Mile, de Gauges in the 
clutches of such a scoundrel, and that after dinner he would 
go for a Commissary of Police to accompany him to the 
house in the Avenue d'Eylau. 

George let him talk himself out, and then calmly replied 
that he preferred to go there alone, so as to prevent a public 
scandal which might be disagreeable to Mme. de Sartilly. 
She understood his meaning, and thanked him with a 
glance. 

Then Vacheron began on another subject which it WM 



The Fortune Teller of Montmartre 357 

equally painful for his daughter to listen to. " You know," 
said he, "what has happened to-day at the races? This 
grand gentleman has robbed the men of his own stamp, and 
those imbeciles he calls his friends, by making his horse lose. 
Well, there he is over head and ears in the mire at last, and 
I am glad of it, for Paris will now be freed from his presence. 
He had given his written promise to do so, and now he will 
have to keep to it, for he can never come back again. Can 
he, Valentine ? " Then as the Countess bent down her head 
without making any reply, he continued : " Thou can'st not 
deny it for thou wert at the race, and I was quite right to 
send thee there with Trevieres. Thou heardest the people 
shouting : ' Sartilly is a thief, a rogue, a blackleg,' but for- 
tunately thou wilt not for much longer bear the name of 
a swindler." 

" Father, father," pleaded Valentine. 

" He is not at his first crime," continued Vacheron, pitilessly, 
" he forged thy signature, and tried to poison thee before 
that, and henceforth I hope that thou wilt cease to uphold 
him." 

" It is not forbidden me to pity him," murmured the young 
woman. 

George was at once made acquainted with several matters 
of which he had been ignorant before, and perceived that bad 
as Florence might be, she had not deceived him in pointing 
out the danger that hung over Mme. de Sartilly. He had 
come expressly to put her on her guard, and yet he hesitated 
to denounce the dark designs of the villain. 

The poor lady was already so much overcome that it was 
repugnant to George's feelings to wound her yet more deeply 
in the presence of her father and this young man, and he 
would have preferred to have spoken to her without wit- 
nesses, but he saw no opportunity of obtaining a private 
interview with her. 

At this instant the servant entered with a letter in his 
hand. "A man with a gold band round his cap has brought 
this from Saint Germain," said he. 

" Give it to me," exclaimed M. Vacheron. 

" It is not for you, sir, it is for Madame," said the ill-trained 
servant, placing it on the table before Valentine, whose colour 
fled as her eyes fell on the address. 

" Why dost thou turn pale 1 " cried the old man, sharply. 
" Confess that thou recognise the writing. Confess that 
this letter is from him." 

Valentine raised her head and answered calmly : " Yes, 
this letter is from my husband. Why should I conceal it 
from you 1 I cannot prevent my husband's writing to me any 
more than I am compelled to reply to him." 



358 Fickle Heart 

" Answer ? You can't do so now," broke in the stupid 
servant who had remained in the room. " The com- 
missionaire who brought it has gone." 

" Get out of this," shouted Vacheron, " this isn't the place 
for you." Then as soon as the foolish fellow had left the 
room he continued ; " I hope that thou art going to leave 
his letter unread." 

" I will burn it when you have read it," answered his 
daughter. 

Vacheron did not wait for a second authorisation to open 
it, and he broke the seal growling out : " From Saint 
Germain — he is at St. Germain, is he, the scoundrel 1 — What 
can he be doing there ? Preparing some new roguery, I 
suppose." 

" Head it, father, read it aloud." 

" Dost thou really mean it ? What, before these gentle- 
men ? " 

" These gentlemen are my good friends, and I have 
nothing to conceal from them, whatever the Count de 
Sartilly may have thought fit to write." 

" Aha ! " said Vacheron, " I begin to believe that thou art 
cured, since thou no longer wishest to have any secrets with 
this man. He never believed that thou wouldst show me 
his letter, and so he has not hesitated to write some other 
nonsense, by which he hoped that thou wouldst be entrapped 
as thou hast been before. No, no, Count. My own 
little Valentine knows what your true value is and you 
won't catch her again ; and now let us see what he has 
dared to write." He then read out the contents of the 
letter in a loud voice, often stopping to comment on them. 
" See," cried he, " there is no heading, neither my dear 
Valentine, nor Madame, nor only Valentine. He doesn't know 
how to begin after what he has done — that's it, 1 understand 
now ! ' 1 saw you yesterday at Longchamps. You were not 
alone, but I do not reproach you. 1 have lost the right to 
do so.' Here is a miracle, he actually does himself justice ! 
' But I still have the right to protest against the abominable 
calumnies with which I have been overwhelmed. I cannot 
dispense with your respect, nor can I bear to think you 
believe me guilty of the vile acts which evil tongues have 
ascribed to me. My horse has been disqualified because his 
jockey had been bribed by one of my enemies, most likely 
by Oxwall the bookmaker, who proposed to me to allow 
ISnowflake to be drugged, so that he might be beaten, and I 
might make money by laying against my horse. I 
indignantly refused to lend myself to this fraud, and to 
revenge himself on me for my refusal, he has plotted with 
Mowbridge, my jockey. These two rogues must have 



The Fortune-Teller of Monlmartre 359 

gained an enormous sum of money, whilst I have lost a great 
deal, and yet no one will believe me. Ruined financially, 
and my honour attacked at the same time, it is more than I 
can bear. The enquiry which the stewards of the race are 
about to institute, will, I hope, clear up everything, and prove 
that I have been the victim, and not the accomplice of 
Oxwall and Mowbridge. But even this will not reinstate 
me in the opinions of fools, nor will I endeavour to struggle 
against the decisions of those whom I despise. All I care is 
that you should learn the truth. Abandoned by you, 
persecuted by my enemies, and overwhelmed with insults, 
I am wearied of the life I have led, and am about to leave 
France for ever.' So he has made up his mind at last ? 
'Well, that is lucky for him. ' Tell your father that I shall 
faithfully carry out the engagement I made with him. The 
day after to-morrow I shall sail for England, and henceforth 
I shall reside abroad. I have all ready. After the race I 
went to stay at St. Germain, and I shall sleep to-night at the 
Henry IV Pavilion. To-morrow about twelve, I shall 
return for the last time to our former home, for I have 
some papers to destroy. This will only take me a few hours 
and I leave for Calais by the night train.' Good night, my 
dear Count, and a prosperous voyage to you ! ' Amongst 
these papers, there is one written and signed by you under 
circumstances which you have certainly not forgotten. If 
I take it away with me to foreign parts, you may imagine 
that I have kept it to make use of in some way against you, 
at a future period. If I told you that I had burnt it, you 
would not be obliged to believe me. I must therefore give it 
into your own hands ? Have you the courage to come and 
fetch it to-morrow from the Avenue d'Eylau % ' Good, 
just another dodge to bring about a reconciliation. ' Do not 
fear, this is no trap. There will be no question of anything 
between us, save of this restitution. I will not speak to you 
of the past, nor of the future. After this interview that I 
have asked for, we shall remain as we now are, strangers 
to each other. I do not desire, any more than you do, an 
impossible reconciliation. You may even, if you wish, settle 
the whole affair by sueing for a divorce. I shall not oppose 
it. Each of us can then obtain freedom, and you can, if 
you desire it, contract another marriage, in which I earnestly 
desire that you may find all kinds of happiness.' Yes 
there is the velvet paw, have a care of the claws. ' I would 
have spared you this trouble, but as you can imagine, I do 
not wish to present myself at your father's house ; and I 
think that you will agree with me, that it would be better 
for him to remain ignorant of the very existence of such a 
document. He will not understand the feelings that prompted 



360 Fickle Heart 

you to pen those lines, which, in our own hearts, were but 
the evidence of our mutual confidence and love ; I will there- 
fore wait for you to-morrow all day, and if you desire it our 
interview can take place in the garden. Until to-morrow 
then, and whatever may happen, believe in the sincere and 
unchangeable affection of Gontran.' Amen!" cried Vacheron, 
throwing the letter on to the table. " All's well that ends 
well, and now thou art freed from this gentleman, at the 
expense only of paying him his allowance while he remains 
away from France. We can now proceed with the divorce, 
and since we need fear no opposition on his part, the trial 
will be a mere form, and so wilt thou do me the favour 
of telling me what this paper is, about which Sartilly writes 
such fine things 1 " 

George Cezambre could have answered this question, for 
he had received information regarding it from Florence, and 
he felt sure that the woman was right in her notion that 
Gontran would murder his wife at the proposed interview, and 
endeavour to make it appear that she had committed suicide. 
However he felt that it was his place not to interfere yet, 
but to wait for Valentine's reply to her father's question. 

Valentine did not hesitate for a moment. " This is what I 
wrote," answered she coldly. '' ' Life is a burden to me. I die 
of my own free will. Let no one be accused of my death. 
Heaven will judge me,' and then I signed it." 

" Unhappy girl," exclaimed Vacheron, " it was thy death 
warrant that thou didst sign. By this thy husband could 
murder thee with impunity, and all would believe that thou 
hadst killed thyself. And has he this paper in his hands ? " 

" He has. What does it matter ? " 

"What does it matter 1 Indeed, it matters so much that he 
has but to leave it by the side of thy body, after he has made 
away with thee, to screen himself. He has written this letter 
to draw thee thither, and if thou dost so, thou wilt never 
return again alive." 

" I am not going," answered the Countess, in a decided 
tone. 

" I hope not, but he will come here ; he will find some pre- 
text to persuade thee to receive him, even if he does not try 
to assassinate thee when thou goest outside the house. As 
long as he has this paper, thy life is in jeopardy." 

" Do you wish me then to go and reclaim it 1 " 

" No, no," replied Vacheron, quickly. " I will go." 

"He would not give it to you But why should he 

wish to kill me 1 " 

" To inherit from thee, dost thou not understand ? He has 
thy will, in which thou makest him residuary legatee, though 
I begged thee to make another." 



The ortune-Teller of Montmartre 361 

" I have done so, and revoked my former one. I am ready 
to show it to thee. I have left M. de Sartilly an income 
during his life of sixty thousand francs, and nothing more. 
I do not wish him to starve." 

" Thou hast been too good to him, he could have lived on 
much less. But thou hast done right to revoke thy former 
will. All thou hast to do is to inform thy husband of the 
existence of this second one, and this I will do for thee. I can 
kill two birds with one stone. I can tell him of the change in 
thy testamentary dispositions, and I will demand from him 
the slip of paper which puts thee in his power." 

" I had rather that the demand came from someone else." 

"And by whom, pray ? By our friend Trdvieres 1 Sartilly 
will look en it as an insult. He knows that if thou couldst 
obtain a divorce TreVieres would marry thee, and he will 
treat him so that another duel would be the result." 

" I will undertake the duty, if you will permit me," cried 
George Cezambre. 

" You, my friend ! You certainly could do so, but your 
intervention would be almost as dangerous as that of 
TreVieres. Sartilly surprised you in his house three months 
ago. He would certainly try to fix a quarrel on you. And 
besides, on whose part could you go to him ? Not as the 
representative of my daughter, for that would never do." 

" I go on my own behalf. I have a personal matter to settle 
with him. He has carried away and hidden Mile, de Ganges." 

" That is true. I had forgotten it. Lisa told us that to- 
night you were going to look for her ; but you will not 
see Sartilly, for he writes from Saint Germain, where he says 
he is, unless, indeed, he lies." 

" Whether he has lied or not, I shall go." 

" You are right," said M. Vacheron. " What time have 
you fixed upon ? " 

" I am to meet Lisa at two in the morning, in the Rue 
Villejust." 

" But Lisa is here." 

"She is going to fetch Domingo." 

" Your negro 1 Ah, he will be useful, for you may have 
trouble with Sartilly's servants, and two men, in such a case, 
are better than one." 

" Lisa has plenty of time to fetch him from Auteuil." 

" There is no use in all that trouble," said Trevieres. " I 
will willingly take his place if you will permit me." 

" I thank you kindly, sir," answered George, " but I do not 
wish to expose you to any risk." 

" We will share the danger and the honour, too, for it will 
be a source of the greatest pleasure to aid you in rescuing 
Mile, de Ganges." 



362 Fickle Heart 

" Thou art acting rightly, Henri," said M, Vacheron, " but 
my dear George, Lisa says she thinks that the poor young 
woman is injured." 

" I shall see her at any rate, and know what has happened 
to her, and then I shall know what to do." 

" You are right, you must certainly question her," mur- 
mured the ex-contractor, who could not divest himself of the 
idea that Diana had followed Gontran of her own free will. 

George guessed his thought. " If she declines to follow me 
I will not force her," said he, "but I will compel M. de Sar- 
tilly to give me satisfaction. I shall then have an opportunity 
to talk with him, and will say to him everything that you 
yourself could." 

" It will be to-morrow, then, for I believe to-night he is 
really at Saint Germain." 

" I believe so too, and it seems to me that it is useless to 
wait until two o'clock. When the master is away, the servants 
will not keep a strict watch." 

" And besides, Lisa has a key," said Valentine, " the key 
of the little door leading into the garden. The servants 
never go out into the grounds, and when they are left to 
themselves they sit in the servants' hall and gossip." 

" I can then make the attempt much earlier, there are not 
many people in the Avenue d' Eylau." 

" No, but there are the neighbours," said Vacheron ; "M. 
and Mme. de Saint Senier." 

" Neither of them will interfere with me," returned George. 
"I have taught them not to interfere with me, and if they 
do so " 

" You will make them keep their place, I have no doubt ; 
but they have servants." 

" And my presence will be useful in preventing them from 
intervening," said Trevieres, " therefore, pray let me come 
with you." 

" I am quite willing," said George, " but I wish to enter 
Mile, de Ganges' room alone." 

"That is most natural. I will keep guard at the gate— if 
you are attacked you have only to call out tome." 

" Very good," said Vacheron. "My daughter approves of 
your expedition, and I endorse her opinion ; but I am of 
opinion that you should waste no time in acting. It is near 
eight o'clock." 

" In two hours we can go," said George. 

On mature reflection George had decided to say nothing of 
Florence's revelations. Valentine was now perfectly acquainted 
with the nature of the danger that menaced her, and 
appeared to be entirely cured of her foolish passion for her 
unworthy husband. At last the time for departure arrived, 



The Chamber of Death 363 

and Valentine asked George what he had settled to do at the 
close of the, expedition. George replied that he could not 
tell what the result might be, but that he would certainly 
send Lisa to the Rue de la Neva in any case to report what 
had taken place ; he further promised to come over himself 
in the morning, and begged M. Vacheron not to go out 
without first seeing him, as it was necessary that he should 
hear what had taken place before his intended interview with 
his son-in-law. The worthy man understood this and pro- 
mised to do as he had been asked. Valentine was visibly 
affected by the danger that Trevieires might possibly 
encounter, and George could not help thinking how well all 
would end for her if she married her lover of former days, 
after obtaining the divorce which it was not likely that the 
Court would refuse to grant. 



CHAPTEE XL 

THE CHAMBER OF DEATH 

Ten o'clock struck from the belfry of the Russian church as 
Cezambre, Trevieres, and Lisa started on their expedition. 
They walked quickly, and on arriving at the Avenue 
d'Eylau, they perceived with pleasure that it was entirely 
deserted. The shops were shut, and a change had taken 
place in the weather, for a fine rain was falling which drove 
pedestrians to their homes. As they passed the front of M. 
de Sartilly's house, Lisa pointed out that the windows were 
not lighted. It seemed as if everyone was asleep, and if any 
of the domestics were still up, they were evidently gossiping 
in the kitchen. There was not even a light in the porter's 
lodge, who was in the habit of playing cards with his wife 
after their dinner. As they turned the corner of the Rue 
Villejust, Lisa pointed out a light on the first floor in the left 
wing. " That is in Mile, de Ganges' old room," whispered 
she, " and not only proves that she is in there, but that she 
has not yet retired to rest." 

A little further on, they came to the small door opposite 
M. de Saint Senier's house, all the lights of which had been 
extinguished except the gas in the courtyard. The Viscount 
had no doubt gone to dine at his club, and his wife was 



364 Fickle Heart 

rambling about somewhere, according to her custom. There 
was no one to be seen in the garden. Now or never was the 
moment to act, and Lisa opened the door noiselessly. Then 
they divided their duties. It was settled that Trevieres 
should take up his position inside, and Lisa outside the 
door, which was to remain half open until George's return, 
who was going to venture alone into the dominions of the 
Count.de Sartilly. If he was attacked he could fall back on 
the rear guard, so that it was impossible for his retreat to be 
cut off. George Cezambre pressed Trevieres' hand, and 
passing through the door, walked straight across the lawn to 
the left wing, where he hoped to find Diana safe and sound. 
He carried his revolver in his hand and advanced with great 
caution. He knew the grounds well, for had he not been 
through them on a snowy night, with the shots fired by a 
servant whistling round him. The snow had gone, and Mme. 
de Saint Senier's coachman no longer wished to kill him, 
but for all that he ran great risk, for it was very probable 
that the Count had ordered his servants to fire on any in- 
truder. There was no one in sight, the grounds were deserted, 
and the house as silent as if it had not been inhabited. George 
recognised the place where he had fallen on the grass by the side 
of one of the walks, and where Diana had come to his aid, and 
this seemed to him to be a happy omen. The woman who 
had shown so much love and devotion for him, could never 
have left him for a degraded man. He had no difficulty in 
finding the staircase that led up to the apartment that she 
had formerly occupied, and he hastily ascended it. In the 
darkness he stumbled and almost fell, making a great deal of 
noise. He stopped and listened, but the door was not open 
on the landing. This was the door that led into the little 
sitting-room behind which Diana's bed-room was situated ; 
he crept up to it, and placed his ear against it. There was 
no sound in the room, though he had seen from the outside 
that there was a light in the windows. Perhaps Diana was 
sleeping. At last he made up his mind to knock, gently at 
first, then louder, but there was no reply. He could not 
understand it. Had Diana been asleep the noise would 
certainly have aroused her, and if she were injured and 
unable to answer, surely someone would have been in attend- 
ance on her. He could restrain himself no longer but 
felt for the key : it was in the lock, he turned it, and entered 
the sitting-room. There was no one there, but the place was 
all in disorder ; some female attire was flung about, and on a 
table were medicine bottles and a small copper lamp which 
burned with a dim light. And still the same alarming 
silence ; the silence of the tomb. George shuddered. The 
shadow of death seemed to be hovering over the room in 



The Chamber of Death 365 

which his romance of love had first commenced. The door 
of communication between the two rooms was half open. 
There was a light in the inner room which must he placed 
near the bed ; he could not see it, however, for the half open 
door hid all except an overturned chair, and a wardrobe with 
glass doors. He had but a step to make to cross the threshold, 
but he did not dare to do so ; and remained with extended 
arms and fixed gaze, hardly daring to draw his breath. In 
the glass door of the wardr.obe he could see the reflection of 
the bed, and on it was the stretched and motionless form of a 
woman. Then he took the decisive step, but scarcely had 
he passed through the door, then he stopped short, rooted to 
the spot with surprise and horror. The pallid countenance 
on the pillow was that of Diana de Ganges ; her magnificent 
hair surrounded it like a halo of gold, her eyes were open, 
but the light of life no longer shone in them. No friendly 
hand had been found to close them ; and the coverlet hurriedly 
thrown over the body, covered it to the neck, though one arm 
hang down from the bed. " Dead," murmured George with 
a shudder.. " Oh, no, not dead ; people do not die like this." 
He felt her hand, it was icy cold ; he had not even the 
courage to press a kiss upon it. " The wretch has murdered 
her." In this he was wrong, but he was right in saying, 
" And all have deserted her." Everything, indeed, went to 
show that the attendants on the injured woman had hurried 
away, as soon as she had expired, and in their eagerness to 
escape had upset a chair. George might well have forgiven 
them for this, for he, too, turned and fled, never stopping until 
he reached the gate where he had left Lisa and Trevieres. 
He found them talking with Francis who had come across 
them whilst making his rounds, and was just explaining the 
melancholy event to them. "Ah, sir," said he to George, "it 
is very sad. Dr. Pontier was here at six o'clock, but Made- 
moiselle was still in a high fever, but he told me that when 
that passed off, she would be out of danger. He wrote a 
prescription and left, saying that he would return to-morrow 
morning. A quarter of an hour after that the fever ceased, 
and Mademoiselle began to get drowsy. The woman who 
had been by her bedside since yesterday must have dropjjed 
off to sleep, and when she awoke Mademoiselle was dead. 
Dead without pain, for she had not uttered a sound. The 
woman when she touched her and found her cold, lost her 
head and ran away. She stopped for a minute to ask the 
porter and his wife to go and stay with the dead woman, 
but they refused, nor dared I do so. I am nervous, and am 
afraid of dead people." 

" Where is your master V interrupted George. 

" We none of us know ; he has not yet come iu. His 



366 Fickle Heart 

coachman waited for him at Longchamps until seven o'clock, 
behind the Stand, and at last brought back the carriage 
without him. It appears that the Count left the course 
on foot. I have been most uneasy, for it seems there are 
strange stories going about regarding the race. M. de Saint 
Senier came here to enquire about him, and when he heard 
that I had not seen him, he went off muttering, ' It is likely 
that he may have drowned himself.' Do you think that 
there is any chance of that, sir ? " 

George made no reply, but Lisa cried out, " Your master 
is a villain, for he is the cause of Mademoiselle's death. 
Dr. Pontier is a fool, and you are all a set of heartless 
creatures to have left her alone as you have done. I will go 
and watch over her." 

" And I will share your vigil," said George Cezambre. 
Then drawing Trevieres aside for a moment he added, " I beg 
you to go back and tell M. Vacheron what has taken place. 
I shall remain here to wait for Mile, de Ganges' murderer ; 
he belongs to me, and he shall die by no other hand than 
mine, but I will not prevent M. Vacheron from demanding 
from him the dangerous document he holds. I will wait until 
the interview is over. The Count will doubtless arrive 
early, and when he hears of Diana's death, he will not care 
to enter the room in which her body is. Let M. Vacheron 
come to-morrow morning and get what he wants ; then it 
will be my turn, and I swear to you that before nightfall 
the victims of this villain shall be amply avenged." 

" I will do as you wish, sir," replied Trevieres, gravely. " I 
would willingly take your place in the combat, but that is 
impossible. Your cause is a just one, and you will rid the 
earth of a scoundrel ; but I hope that you will permit me 
to be your second." 

George grasped the hand which Trevieres extended to him, 
then going up to the valet he said, "Now listen to my orders and 
obey them. Before to-morrow night, your master, if he is still 
alive, will be in the clutches of the law. He has stolen — do 
you understand, and I suppose that you do not want to share 
his fate ? " 

" Oh, no, sir," cried Francis, eagerly. 

" Work with us," broke in Lisa, " It is your only chance 
of safety, and if, as you have so often said, you have any 
real affection for me, prove it now." 

" I will most willingly do so." 

" Where are the other domestics ? " 

" In the servants' portion of the house ; including the porter 
and his wife, and they would not venture out for a great 
deal. They believe that a crime has been committed and 
expect the police every moment." 



The Finger of Fate 367 

" The police will be here to-morrow. Now oblige me by- 
locking up the servants in the basement ; I don't want them 
to pry into our affairs. Then you can go to bed." 

" T daren't do so ; I was unable to sleep just now and was 
smoking my pipe at the window, when I saw some person in 
the garden, and therefore came down." 

" Well, go upstairs now, and do not stir until daybreak ; 
if you are wanted I will come for you. Now, then, will you 
come with me? "added she, turning to George Cezambre. 

Trevieres sadly returned to the Rue de , la Neva. Francis, 
who had seen that obedience was his best policy, went up 
to his garret in the roof, and George and Lisa entered the 
chamber of death. Lisa sank on her knees and murmured 
a prayer for the soul of the departed, whilst George overcome 
with emotion, threw himself into an arm-chair. 

And whilst all this was taking place, Gontran de Sartilly, 
with a cigar in his mouth, was walking up and down 
the terrace at Saint Germain thinking of the morrow. 
"Valentine will surely come," thought he, "but at what 
hour ? Probably when Vacheron goes out for his usual walk. 
I must therefore, catch the first train. The interview will be 
a decisive one, but I must be prudent. I will do nothing 
until I am sure that she has not revoked her will ; I hope 
not, and if not — well, to-morrow I shall be a widower." 



CHAPTER XLI 

THE FINGER OF FATE 

Valentine and her father had sat up to wait for Henri 
Trevieres' return, who came back about midnight, and brought 
them the melancholy news of Diana's death. Valentine, who 
had loved her fondly, burst into tears, but M. Vacheron, 
though almost as much affected as his daughter, did not 
weep, but poured out a string of invictives against Sartilly 
whom he accused of being Diana's murderer. Everything 
showed, however, that she had died from the effects of the 
terrible accident that she had met with in the Bois de 
Boulogne, and so Trevieres told the ex-contractor who was 



368 Fickle Heart 

reluctantly convinced, but maintained that the entire 
responsibility of the unhappy event rested on the shoulders 
of his son-in-law. And in this he was not wrong, for 
the unfortunate Diana had been thrown from her horse 
entirely owing to Gontran's fault. To the old man's great 
pleasure Valentine did not seek to defend her husband. 
She was certainly cured of her unhappy attachment, and 
he endeavoured to profit by her novel feelings to enter upon 
a subject which was the dearest wish of his heart. " Listen," 
said he, " the moment has come to act with decision. To- 
morrow I will finish up with the man who bewitched thee. 
Thou seest him now in his true light." 
" Alas, I do." 

"And thou wilt acknowledge that he is unworthy of 
pardon ? " 

" Of pardon, yes ; of pity, no." 

" I grant thee that if thou desirest it ; therefore, I will not 
deliver him up to justice. I had sooner he disappeared, 
and I believe that he is making up his mind to do so. 
In the letter he wrote thee, he confesses that he can no longer 
remain in Paris ; I shall therefore have no trouble in forcing 
him to leave at once, and as he well knows that if he 
attempted to return to France I should cut off his supplies, 
he will keep away. But when he has left, what will thy 
position be ? Thou wilt be neither maid nor wife, thou wilt 
be a deserted woman, and as long as he lives thou canst not 
marry again. Thou art going to say that thou dost not 
think of doing so, and I say to thee that thou art wrong, 
for sometime or other the day will come when thou wilt 
think differently." 

" Father, that day has come." 

" Good ; now thou hast become reasonable once more. 
Well, since thou hast given up the idea of making a useless 
sacrifice of thyself, thou hast only to divorce him ; and 
Sartilly must give way, for we hold him tight through his 
fear of losing the allowance that I have agreed to make 
him. If I forced him he would apply for a divorce 
himself, and if we sue for one, he will not dare to oppose it." 
" You are right, there, I believe." 

" Then thou authorisest me to do it in thy name 1 I will 
see my solicitor to-morrow and talk matters over with him. 
We have our choice'pf pleas, but as I go with thee in desirincr 
that he should not have to appear in the Criminal Court 
either for the forgery he committed, or the murder he 
attempted, it will be sufficient to prove that he had carried 
off thy recent companion, and established her under the 
conjugal domicile. Yes, it will be the more easy to prove 
that since she died there." 



The Finger of Fate 369 

" Dead, alone, deserted ; without a helping hand." 
"That man is a monster, and banishment is too mild a 
punishment for his crimes. But when thy divorce shall have 
been granted, what wilt thou do 1 " 
" What you wish, father." 

" Then since thou placest thyself in my hands, thou shalt 
marry TreVieres, he is the husband that I had hoped for 
thee — thou wilt make him the happiest of men, and he will 
return with interest the love that thou wilt give him. Thou 
and he will be a model household. Do not blush, my child. 
Pardon me, Henri, for not having allowed thee the pleasure 
of making thine own proposal. I know thy wishes, and I 
have guessed my daughter's feelings. If all are agreed the 
marriage can take place in twelve months." 

Trevieres was intoxicated with delight ; he cast a sidelong 
glance at Valentine, and read in her eyes her determination 
to be his wife. 

" And now," continued Vacheron, " that I am at ease 
regarding thy future, I have only to take precautions 
against M. de Sartilly, who holds thy life in his hands ever 
since thou hadst the imprudence to sign that paper, which 
I must get from him at any cost ; but, tell me, how did he 
obtain it from thee ? " 

In a few words Valentine explained exactly what had 
passed on the night when Gontran had surprised George 
Cezambre in her room, whither he had sought refuge from 
the pistol of Mme. de Saint Seiner's coachman. 
" It is hardly credible," said Vacheron. 
" I have the copy that he wrote for me." 
" Hast thou kept it 1 " 
" I have, though I hardly know why." 
" It is Heaven who has inspired thee with the idea. 
Where is it 1 " 

" Here," replied Valentine, drawing a small piece of paper 

doubly -folded from her bosom . " I had thought that if I 

wanted mine back, I might offer him the original in exchange." 

" I will give it to him," said Vacheron, putting it carefully 

into his pocket-book. 

" You persist then in your design of going to him to- 
morrow yourself ? " 

" Of course I do, more than ever. There is no time to be 
lost. I want him to leave the day after to-morrow, and the 
chance is a good one for forcing him to do so. Mile, de 
Ganges' body is still there, and before the day is out the 
Commissary of Police will come to inquire into the circum- 
stances of her death. I will venture to affirm that Sartilly 
will not be there to meet him, and that he will quit Paris at 
once." 

2 Ji 



370 Fickle Heart 

" Yes, I think so, too ; and it is better that I should not 

see him. But there is nothing to prevent my going and 

pressing a last kiss on the forehead of my unfortunate friend." 

" I will not prevent thee from doing so ; but do not let that 

man come near thee." 

" Do not fear, father, I hold him in utter detestation ; and, 
besides, I shall not go alone, for I hope that M. Trevieres 
will be good enough to accompany me," said Valentine, 
extending her hand to the man whose wife she had just 
promised to be. 

It looked like a second betrothal, and Vacheron seemed to 

think it one ; for he rose up hurriedly, and, placing his 

daughter's hand in that of the enraptured Henri, he cried out : 

" My children 1 this is the happiest moment of my life. 

My boy, kiss thy future wife." 

Trevieres did not profit by the good old man's authorisation 
until he had consulted Valentine by a look, and her expres- 
sive glance gave him the consent that he was waiting for. 

" And now, my dear friend," said Vacheron, " return to 
your own house, we all have need of rest. At what o'clock 
will you go to see our poor Diana ?" 

"Will ten o'clock suit you?" asked Vacheron. 
" Perfectly," returned Trevieres. 

" My father will come with us to the doorstep, and then 
he can leave us, whilst we go together to the room where the 
body of my poor friend is." 

" Very good," replied Vacheron, who had, however, a per- 
fectly different intention. Trevieres took his leave, Valentine 
went to her own room, whilst Vacheron proceeded to his 
study. Did he exaggerate the risk he might run in discussing 
so momentous a question with his dangerous son-in-law ? 
It was a doubtful question ; but one thing is certain, that he 
passed his night in putting his papers in order, cataloguing 
his investments, and making his will, exactly as if he had 
been going to fight a duel the next morning. Then various 
duties occupied him until dawn ; he then shaved and dressed 
himself, but did not lie down to take any rest. The worthy 
man had his reasons for dispensing with sleep. He had 
made up his mind to go to the house in the Avenue d : Eylau 
before his daughter, and hoped to have settled matters with 
Sartilly before she made her appearance there escorted by 
her betrothed. At seven o'clock he was quite ready, and 
went downstairs silently. The servants rose late at M. 
Vacheron's, and none of them were up when he left the 
house. He had put in his pocket-book the copy of the 
document in Gontran's hand-writing, but he took no 
weapon to his meeting with his son-in-law, for he dis- 
trusted his own hasty temper. Age had not diminished 



The Finger of Fate 371 

his strength ; he had been a worker all his life, and it had 
hardened every muscle and sinew until they were like iron 
wires. He was not the man to brook an insult, and had 
Sartilly ventured to assault him he could have crushed him 
in a moment, and could have as easily killed him with his 
rist as he could with a revolver if he had had one in his 
pocket. But Vacheron, enraged as he was with the man, 
had no desire to kill him. At this moment it would only 
cause a useless complication, and his daughter had more need 
of his support than ever ; he had, besides, no wish to be tried 
for homicide, and be compelled to prove that he had acted in 
self-defence; or to have to remain in prison until he was formally 
exculpated, for he had no time to waste. Vacheron therefore 
took neither knife or pistol for fear of yielding to a sudden 
impulse of passion. He merely carried in his hand his cane, 
with which he always walked ; a strong heavy stick, armed 
with which he feared no one. When he arrived he found 
the gate leading from the Avenue d'Eylau open, and passed 
through without the porter's coming out to ask his business. 
The house appeared to be entirely deserted, and he reached 
the steps without meeting any of the servants. Vacheron 
knew that George and Lisa were in the room where Mile, de 
Ganges' body was, but it was not a part of his plan to see 
them before he had met his son-in-law. He endeavoured to 
get into the house, but the front door was closed. He would 
have rung but there was no bell, it being on the outer gate. 
The porter was not in the hall, and doubtless the master of 
the house had not returned, as there were no servants about. 
He therefore determined to walk round the house until he 
found someone stirring. It was only just eight, and he was 
not surprised at not finding anyone up, nor that his son-in- 
law had not yet made his appearance, for the first train from 
Saint Germain to Paris does not arrive before half -past six, 
and the station of Saint Lazare is some way from the Avenue 
d'Eylau. " He will drive here," thought the old man. " I 
shall hear the noise of his cab, and can wait for him on the 
steps, so that he cannot avoid meeting me." 

As he walked along one of the paths, he cast his eyes up- 
wards, and saw a window open at which a man appeared in 
his shirt sleeves with a pipe in his mouth. This was Francis, 
whom he at first did not recognise, as he had never seen him 
except in livery. The valet, however, knew him, and raising 
his arms in amazement at so unexpected a sight as M. de 
Sartilly's father-in-law walking about the grounds, at once 
disappeared from the window. In a few minutes he came 
into the garden with his clothes huddled on anyhow, and 
approached Vacheron in the most respectful manner. " I 
am waiting for your master," said Vacheron, plainly. 



372 Fickle Heart 

" Are you aware, sir, if he will be here this morning 1 ' 

" Yes, and I must speak to him." 

"You are aware, sir, that the Countess's former companion 
is dead and " 

" I know everything. "Where are the other servants ? 

" In the basement, sir." 

" What do you mean 'i " 

Trevieres had omitted to inform M. Vacheron of this 
detail. 

" I shut them up there by Lisa's orders," returned Francis 
with a faint attempt at a smile. 

" By her orders t " 

" Yes ; it seems she is the person to be obeyed now. I do 
not know what the Count will say ou his return." 

" Most likely your master will not live here any longer, 
but the property belongs to my daughter, and you must 
obey me as her representative." 

'Is it true then that the Count is ruined 1 " 

" Yes, and he is about to leave Paris for ever. I have 
come to settle accounts with him before he does so." 

" Then the Countess will return here to live. I hope that 
she will retain me in her employment." 

" Then you don't want to follow your master, it seems ? " 

" Oh, no, sir ; I have endured too much whilst I served 
him ; and, besides, if lie has lost all his money, he will send 
away his servants. 

" My daughter will not want the services of a valet, and 
besides, she will probably sell the house ; but I will do some- 
thing for you if you will obey me this morning." 

" I am at your service, sir, you have only u> speak." 

" I want to talk to M. de Sartilly, and I do not wish to be 
disturbed during my conversation with him. If he knew 
that I was here he might perhaps decline to receive me. I 
therefore forbid you to warn him that I am here. You will 
simply tell him that some one is waiting for him in the 
garden, without mentioning names." 

" I understand, sir, you can rely on me-" 
" You will also see that none of your fellow-servants inter- 
rupt our conversation." 

"There is no fear of that, for I will not let them out. 
Besides, they have been drinking all night, and are sprawling 
about all over the kitchen. But Lisa and M. Cezambre have 
s xnt the night by the body. Am I to tell them that you are 
here 1 " 

" No, it would be useless ; I will see them when I have 
finished with M. de Sartilly. Perhaps my daughter may 
come ; if so, you will take her to the room where the body is 
and then return to wait in the hall." 



The Fiwjcr of Fate 373 

"T will do so, sir ; but if you wish to be alone with the 
< 'mint, the garden is a bad place, for Lisa may come down 
without my seeing her " 

" That is true, but where can I go ? " 

" I can take you to M. de Sartilly's room. He will cer- 
tainly go up there on his return, and he will find some one 
there whom he does not expect. He will no doubt discharge 
me for having shown you up there, sir, but I don't care for 
that." 

"Good," said Vacheron, casting a look of contempt on the 
servant who was so ready to betray his master, "show me 
the room, and if you serve me faithfully, I will recompense 
you largely." 

" Oh ! sir, what I do is not from interested motives," re- 
turned Francis, with the most sublime audacity. Vacheron 
shrugged his shoulders, and followed the valet to the first 
floor, where there was a smoking-room, into which the 
Count's bedroom opened. The old man established himself 
in the first of these rooms, while Francis hastened to take up 
the position that had been assigned to him. 

The valet had thoroughly made up his mind to throw over 
his master, who was, as he believed, utterly ruined, and to 
cast in his lot with his opponents, and by doing this he hoped 
to benefit himself and to gain Lisa's good opinion. He had 
not been on guard in the hall for more than twenty minutes 
when he saw the Count get out of a cab at the main entrance, 
and hurriedly walk up to the house. 

" He doesn't seem in a particularly good temper," thought 
Francis, " but presently we shall have a fine laugh at him." 

To laugh was indeed the last thing that Gontran thought 
of. He was going to play his last card, and had determined 
to finish with his wife, once and for all. He had no doubts 
about her coining, and he intended that she should never 
return to her father's house. Coward as he was, he seemed 
not to have reasoned so acutely as he had formerly done, 
and he had never thought that the letter he had written to 
his wife could be read by any one except herself. He made 
sure that she would bring the compromising letter in his 
handwriting with her ; he would ask her for it, and when once 
he had it in his possession, nothing prevented him from dis- 
encumbering himself of her for ever without any one being 
able to accuse him of having hastened her end. With a little 
care, everyone could be made to believe that she had com- 
mitted suicide. What was easier than to open one of the 
windows situated some thirty feet above the granite steps of 
the house, and fling her out, after having slipped into her 
pocket the letter which she had come to reclaim. She would 
be certainly killed on the spot, and all that he would have to 



374 Fickle Heart 

do would be to call in the servants, and tell them that, excited 
by argument, she had thrown herself out. The world might 
be surprised at this tragic termination, and he might perhaps 
be at first accused, but the finding of the few written lines 
on her would at once acquit hirnof the crime, whilst he would 
not proclaim the will until the sad event had been partially 
forgotten. 

The execution of this terrible design depended- upon the 
interview that he would have with his wife. If she permitted 
herself to be again deluded by his prayers and protestations, 
if she consented to forget the past, and promised to persuade 
her father to forgive him, and pay his debts again, he would 
give up, for a time at least, the thoughts of freeing himself by 
her murder. 

These sinister thoughts had clouded his brow, and his first 
words to Francis were those of anger. " What are you doing 
here ? " he asked harshly. 

" I was waiting for your lordship to announce some sad 
news to you," answered the valet, without appearing in the 
least disconcerted. 

" What are you interfering about now ? '' 

"Your lordship will pardon me, but I thought it advisable to 
let you know as soon as possible that Mile. deGanges is dead.'' 

" Dead ! " repeated Gontran, " that is impossible ; why 
yesterday the doctor had every hope of saving her." 

" Unhappily he was wrong, for Mile, de Ganges drew her 
last breath shortly after the doctor had left, without even 
regaining consciousness. It was too late to report the death 
in the proper quarter, so I thought that I had better await 
your lordship's return to ask what was to be done." 

iSartilly did not attempt to counterfeit any sorrow. In- 
stead of being afflicted by Diana's death, it extricated him 
from a most embarrassing position. After the misfortune 
of the day before, Diana, had she lived, would have been a 
great clog upon him, and now nothing prevented his asserting 
that after the accident, she had managed to speak, and had 
begged him to take her to his house. He had had nothing 
further to do with her, and no one could reproach him for 
what he had done. " It is unfortunate," said he coldly 
" Has Dr. Pontier been informed of what has taken place 1 " 

"Not yet, but he will be here at twelve o'clock." 

" Very well, beg him to fulfil the necessary business 
formalities, as I have no time to occupy myself with them. 
Where are the other servants ? " 

"They got alarmed; some ran away, others went up to 
their rooms, and have not yet come downstairs. I was the 
only one who sat up all night. Does your lordship wish me 
to call them 1 " 



The Finger of Fate 375 

" No, it would be useless. You have my orders to prevent 
them from entering the room where the body is, and let 
them go on with their work as if nothing had taken place. 
As for you, you can remain here, until I give you fresh 
orders. I am expecting Mme. de Sartilly." 

Francis stared at his master, wondering if he was in 
earnest ; but he did not utter a word. 

" You will receive her here," continued M. de Sartilly, 
" and usher her up to my room ; then come and wait here, and 
permit no one else to enter the house. Do you understand 1 " 

" Perfectly, your lordship." 

Without adding another word to these brief instructions, 
Sartilly ascended the staircase leading to his own rooms, 
whilst his valet muttered to himself, "A nice figure he'll 
cut, when he finds papa-in-law up there. I don't think that 
I shall sleep here to-night ; but I don't care : when there is 
a bull in the field it's best to be on the right side of the 
hedge. All I am sorry for is that I shan't hear what old 
Yacheron has to say to master. They will be at it hammer 
and tongs directly, and if the Countess comes in when the 
row is at its height, it will be rather funny." Francis should 
rather have said, " It will be tragic." 

When Gontran de Sartilly opened the door of the smoking- 
room, and saw his father-in-law, his rage blazed out at once. 
" You, in my house ! " exclaimed he. " What are you doing 
here 1 " 

" I am not in your house, it belongs to my daughter." 

" It is mine, as it is a part of her dowry as long as I am 
her husband. Leave the house this instant, or I will have 
you pitched out by my servants." 

" I do not advise you to try it. Do you see this little 
stick ? Try on any game, and I will knock you down with it, 
and then go and fetch the police." The old man grasped his 
cane firmly as he spoke, and would have done as he threatened 
in a moment. Sartilly at once saw that it was necessary to 
ask him his reasons for coming, and not to push him too far, 
so he continued, drawing a revolver from his pocket, " You 
see that I am armed. Do not compel me to act in self- 
defence. If you venture to raise your stick, I will shoot you 
without a moment's hesitation. What do you want here ? " 

"I am surprised that you have not guessed the reason. 
You had the audacity to write to my daughter " 

" How do you know that 1 " 

" She showed me your letter. You ought not therefore to 
be surprised at her sending me, instead of coming herself." 

" Then you represent her 1 " 

" I do," answered Vacheron. 

" What have you come to ask for 1 " 



376 Fickle Heart 

" The document that you offered to return her." 
" I will give it back to her, but not to you." 
" You are wrong. I would have given you in exchange the 
copy written in your own hand. If you refuse, I will keep 
it. It will serve as a proof that you intended to murder your 
wife as soon as you got the opportunity, and I will explain 
to the Court, when, and under what circumstances, you got a 
letter which would have enabled you to slaughter her with 
impunity." 

" Suppose I consent to return it to you, then " 

" We have nothing more to discuss. I hold to the terms of 
our previous agreement, and I am sure now that you must 
do so too ; for after what happened yesterday at Longchamps, 
you can no longer remain in France. Your creditors and 
your friends at your club will combine to drive you out of it. 
I may add that you would derive no benefit from this 
confession of suicide which your wife had the incredible 
weakness to sign, for even if you murdered her, you would 
not inherit her fortune. She has revoked the will which 
you took away, after your attempt to poison her, and that 
is why I came here to ask you for that and the paper 
I before alluded to, for they are neither of them of any 
value." 

Sartilly grew visibly paler. He saw that all his dark 
designs had been exposed to the light of day, and he per- 
ceived too late that with all his cunning, he had gone too far 
in confiding on either the renewal of Valentine's tenderness, 
or on her silence. She had evidently told all to her father, 
and the draft of the document, which she had pi'eserved, would 
be sufficient to convince any judge that he had premeditated 
making away with her. The wretched man had often 
wondered what had become of this copy, and after his wife's 
hurried flight, he had fruitlessly sought for it in all the 
draws and rece])tacles in the room, and had at last come 
to the conclusion that she must have burnt it. And now 
this piece of damning evidence had turned up in the hands 
of Vacheron, who was not restrained by the same scruples as 
his daughter, and would not for a moment hesitate to 
make use of it against his unworthy son-in-law. Sartilly 
was vanquished, and nothing remained for him but to submit 
to the conditions which his conqueror had imposed, unless he 
could succeed either by force or stratagem, to tear from him 
the paper which held him at his mercy. " I am awaiting 
your decision," observed the ex-contractor, coldly. "Will 
you or will you not restore the document to me 1 '' 

" Why are you so anxious to have it, since you have no 
cause now to think that my wife's l|f§ is in danger ? " asked 
§artilly, audaciously. 



The Finger of Fate 377 

"What does that matter to you '{ 1 want it, and that is 
enough." 

" Very well, then, let us make an exchange ; one document 
for the other." 

"That is exactly what I proposed to you, and I will not go 
back. Andl repeat to you that I will interfere with your 
future life no more except in paying you your allowance 
every three months. I shall not think the pleasure of getting 
rid of you has been purchased at too dear a price." 

" You have this paper about you 1 " asked Sartilly, 

" It is in my pocket-book. Where is the other ? " responded 
Vacheron. 

" In. my pocket-book, too." 

" Then we can at once make the exchange ; only I must 
tell you that if I am to carry out the terms of our agreement 
you must agree to consent to a divorce. My daughter will 
sue for one. If you defend, I stop your allowance." 

" On what will you ground your petition 1 '" 

" I might answer that that was no concern of yours, and 
that at the proper time you would receive a citation in due 
form. But I have no objection to tell you that nothing will 
be said about the bill for three hundred and fifty thousand 
francs, or of the poisoned glass of water. I retain the bill, 
and I can lay my hand on it at any time, and the witnesses 
to the poisoning case ; and these are arms which I shall keep 
to defend myself with in case you attempt some fresh act of 
criminality." 

" This is all idle talk. Come to the point ; what will be 
the charges my wife will make to the Court ? " 

" She has so many to choose from. Serious injuries, 
constant ill-treatment, squandering of property, notorious 
bad conduct, without even saying a word about the carrying 
off of the young woman who has just died in your house." 

" What ! You know that too 1 " muttered Sartilly between 
his teeth. 

" I know everything," returned Vacheron ; " don't run after 
will-o'-the-wisps, but give me your paper." 

" Give me yours." 

The father and the son-in-law were standing up face to 
face, almost touching each other — Sartilly still holding his 
revolver in his hand, and Vacheron grasping his stick. A 
table stood beside them which seemed placed there on 
purpose to facilitate the exchange, for each man distrusted 
the other, and feared that he would endeavour to seize the 
precious document. 

Sartilly was the first to see to what use the table might 
be applied. He stepped back a couple of paces, laid down 
his revolver whigh was ready cocked, and took out his 



378 Fickle Heart 

pocket-book, from which he extracted Valentine's declaration 
which he read aloud and showed to Vacheron from the spot 
where he stood. During this time Vacheron, in no way 
intimidated by his threatening demeanour, felt in his pocket 
and pulled out the copy written by his son-in-law, and held 
it out to him, still grasping his stick firmly. 

This armed negotiation would never have been concluded 
had not Vacheron, growing impatient, cried out, "Throw 
down your paper on the table, I will do the same with mine, 
and let each take up the one that belongs to him." 

After a moment's hesitation Sartilly obeyed. The two 
pieces of paper fell on the table cloth at the same moment. 
All that was to be done was to pick them up, and Vacheron's 
hand at once closed on that which bore the signature of the 
Countess. Sartilly offered no opposition, and allowed his 
document to lay open on the table. He was in his own 
house, and had plenty of time to pick up and burn the com- 
promising paper after his father-in-law had left the house. 
Vacheron had already turned towards the door when with 
the bound of a tiger Sartilly sprang on him, and seized him 
by the collar, pressing the barrel of his revolver to his head and 
exclaiming, " Let go that paper, or I will blow out your brains." 

Vacheron let go the paper, but it was to seize with both 
his hands the revolver which was pointed at his head. 
Sartilly had his finger on the trigger, the sudden shock 
made him press it, and the pistol exploded. 

Gontran fell like a log : the bullet had entered his right 
eye and lodged in his brain. 

All was over so quickly that Vacheron hardly knew what 
had occurred. Stunned by the report, he staggered back as 
Sartilly sank down, and it was some seconds before he could 
recover himself. 

The body of the Count lay motionless at his feet. Hardly 
any blood flowed from the wound, but the pistol had been 
fired so closely that the face was blackened with powder. 
His fingers already stiffened in death grasped the pistol 
tightly, and everything bore the appearance of a pre- 
meditated suicide. 

Vacheron was much excited, as it was natural that he 
should be, but he could not feel any grief for what had 
happened, and he did not lose his head for a moment. 

He hastened to pick up his daughter's declaration, and 
placed it in his portfolio. The copy in Sartilly's hand- 
writing was on the table ; he left it there, and hurried from 
the room. In the hall he found Francis, who had been 
walking up and down, and had heard nothing. A pistol 
shot does not make much noise when it is fired in a room 
with closed doors, and where the hangings deaden the sound. 



" Hoist with his own Petard " 379 

" Your master is dead," said the old man, quietly ; " go and 
fetch a Commissary of Police." He had no intention to repeat 
to the valet what had taken place at an interview that had 
had so tragic a termination, and he reserved his explanation 
for the police authorities. 

" Then he must have killed himself," said the valet. 

Vacheron did not contradict him. " I expected it," con- 
tinued Francis, " and it is the best thing that he could have 
done. Am I to say, sir, that you were present when the 
Count killed himself 1 I suppose he blew out his brains, for 
he always carried a revolver in his pocket." 

" Tell the truth. I shall remain here. Go, and be back 
as soon as you can." 

Francis hurried off, delighted to be freed from a master 
whom he dreaded as much as he hated. Vacheron took up 
his position on the steps of the house, to await the arrival 
of the authorities. He had no wish to conceal anything at 
his examination, for he had nothing to reproach himself with ; 
but he was not yet quite certain of the turn that matters 
might take. He was the only one present at the time, and 
his evidence might be looked on with suspicion. He did not 
wish either to speak about the matter which had brought 
him there, or the angry discussion that had terminated in 
the death of his son-in-law. But nothing in the world would 
have induced Vacheron to tell a lie. There was however 
no reason for him to reply in a manner that should at all 
compromise him ; and he was already thinking in what terms 
he should frame his justification, when he saw Henri 
Trevieres and Valentine coming up the road that led to the 
house. They had come at the appointed time, and they had 
no doubt but that the old man was there before them, for on 
enquiry they learned that he had gone out very early without 
saying a word to anyone. 



CHAPTER XLII 

" HOIST WITH HIS OWN PETARD " 

Vacheron went forward to meet them, and instead of at 
once telling his daughter of her happy deliverance, he merely 
informed her that her former maid was still with George 
Cezambre watching over the dead body of Diana, and begged 
her to go and assist them in their sad duties. " Henri will 
escort you," said he, " and I will soon rejoin you, meanwhile 
I must stay here." 
Valentine imagined that her father was waiting for 



380 Fickle Heart 

Gontrau, and did not insist on his accompanying her. 
She had no wish to meet her husband, and therefore 
went away at once, for she thought that he might arrive at 
any moment, and taking Trevieres' arm, they directed their 
steps towards the left wing of the building, so as to reach the 
rooms where the body of the poor girl was lying. 

Vacheron followed them with his eyes, and hen onie 
again took up his position at the door of the ho use. The 
Commissary of Police soon made his appearance, for his office 
was not at any great distance, and he happened to be in 
when Francis arrived. He knew the Count de Sartilly and the 
ex-contractor by sight and reputation, and treated the latter 
with the greatest courtesy He had brought with him his 
secretary, a medical man, and two inferior agents, an array 
which would have struck terror into the hearts of the servants 
had they been present. Francis brought up the rear. 

An enquiry was at once instituted, but it did not take very 
long. The doctor after a short examination declared that 
M. de Sartilly had shot himself through the eye, holding the 
barrel of the revolver close to his face. 

Vacheron when questioned, deposed that all had occuved 
so quickly that he could give no account of what had taken 
place, and that he had perhaps killed himself owing to the 
enormous losses which he had lately met with, being greatly 
excited by a violent altercation which he had just had with 
him ; and then as he was going on to express regret for having 
been the involuntary cause of the death of his son-in-law, 
the Commissary interrupted him. " You have nothing to 
reproach yourself with, sir," said he, showing him a paper as 
he spoke, which he had just picked off the table. " This is 
M. de Saitilly's writing, is it not?" 

" Yes sir," replied Francis, " that is my master's hand- 
writing." Vacheron confirmed this by a nod, and the Com- 
missary then read in a loud voice : 

"Life is a burden to me. I die of my own free will. Let 
no one be blamed for my death." 

" Had I had any doubts," continued he, " this declaration 
would have at once removed them, and if the Count did not 
sign it, it was evidently because he had no time to do so ; 
doubtless he was writing this when you came in." 

Vacheron bowed without making any reply ; there was no 
need for him to attempt to justify himself, since the 
representative of the law pleaded his cause and acquitted 
him of all blame. 

Sartilly himself had furnished the evidence which proved 
the innocence of Valentine's father. 

The diabolical scheme which he had invented to enable 
him to assassinate his wife with impunity, had but served to 



"■Hoist tenth his oivn Petard" 381 

save the father-in-law whom he detested, from the difficulty 
of defending himself ; and this new practical exposition of the 
lextalionis was a righteous one, for it had struck down the 
guilty, and shielded the innocent. Vacheron had nothing 
more to do save to ask for permission to withdraw, which 
the Commissary not only granted, but conducted him himself 
to the landing-place, where he even thought it necessary to 
condole with the old man who had so wide a reputation for 
honesty and wealth. " Believe me, sir," said he, " I only ques- 
tioned you as a mere matter of form. I have for a long time 
heard many unpleasant reports regarding M. de Sartilly, and 
I could not help thinking that he would come to a bad end ; 
and now that he is dead, I may mention, that this very 
morning I received a report which accused him of a swindling 
transaction connected with the races at Longchamps, which I 
should have been compelled to refer to the Criminal Court, 
so that it is perhaps as well that he is dead." 

" You are right," returned Vacheron, "and I do not believe 
that the news of his suicide will surprise anyone, unless in- 
deed it be my unfortunate daughter, and it would be 
impossible to hide it from her, even if I wished to do so, for 
she is here at this moment." 

"What! " exclaimed the Commissary ; "why, I heard that 
she had left this house to escape from her husband's ill- 
treatment." 

"So she had, but she came back to-day, and it would be 
well for you to know her reason for doing so. She had a com- 
panion, whilst shelived here, who was also her very dear friend." 

" I know," interrupted the Commissary of Police, who 
seemed to know everything that had taken place in the 
neighbourhood. • " A very handsome girl. Mile, de Ganges, 
who ran away some three months ago with a young man." 

" Quite right ; well, the day before yesterday, Saturday, she 
fell from her horse in the Bois de Boulogne. The Count, 
it appears, found her, and brought her here in his carriage. 
She was placed in the room which she had formerly 
occupied, but she died last night without returning to 
consciousness." 

" Indeed, that is curious. Has the proper information as 
to the death been sent in yet 1 " 

" I believe not." 

"Then there is a fresh enquiry to be made, and I will go " 

" You can easily satisfy yourself that this death was the 
result of an accident. The doctor who has been attending 
her can vouch for it, as well as the servants." 

" I will examine them — and the licence for burial shall not 
be delivered until a post-mortem has taken place." 

" Yes, I know that this is the official way of doing things; 



382 Fickle Heart 

all that I ask, sir, is to permit me to go and fetch my 
daughter who is with her dead friend. She was very fond 
of Mile, de Ganges ; she had forgiven her for what she had 
done and wished to see her for the last time before the earth 
was heaped over her. 

" Yes, yes, that is natural ; but " 

" You must hold an inquest, I am aware ; but before pro- 
ceeding to do so, give me the time to fetch away my daughter, 
and I entreat you, do not summon her as a witness. She 
has yet to learn the death of her husband, and the shock of 
both events will be very terrible for her." 

"It is not necessary that Mme. de Sartilly should be 
present. It will be sufficient, sir, if you will hold yourself in 
readiness to attend if required." 

" With the greatest pleasure, sir ; permit me to add that I 
intend to pay my son-in-law's debts of all kinds. Now that 
he is dead, the complaint addressed to the police would, of 
course, fall to the ground, but my daughter has borne hi3 
name, and I do not wish that it should be linked with the 
word insolvency. This is all that I can do. I cannot restore 
to him the honour that he has lost — but, after all, death wipes 
out everything." 

The Commissary was not a man subject to emotion. The 
exercise of his official duties had hardened his heart to family 
troubles, but even he felt moved by this simple yet noble 
language, coming from the lijDS of a man who had risen from 
the working classes, and who added one more sacrifice to the 
many he had already made by endeavouring to preserve 
from blemish the name of a gentleman who had shown that 
he was possessed of neither heart nor gratitude. 

"Enough, sir," said he, grasping M. Vacheron's hand, 
" and rely upon me to do all that I can to spare you, and 
Mme. de Sartilly from vexatious annoyances. I will send for 
you when I require you." 

The old man thanked him heartily, and hastened away to 
rejoin Valentine. He could no longer defer letting her 
know the tragic fate of her unworthy husband, but he could 
not bring himself to allude to the melancholy event in the 
room where the corpse of poor Diana was lying. This last 
grief, however, was spared him. Valentine had not been 
able to endure for any length of time the melancholy sight, 
and her father meet her in the garden bathed in tears, and 
supported by TreVieres and Lisa. 

George Cezambre was behind them with frowning brow, 
and eyes in which there were no traces of tears. To the 
heartrending despair of that long night passed by the side of 
the body of the woman he adored, had arisen a burning 
desire for revenge. 



"Hoist loith his own 'Petard,'''' 383 

He left the group of weepers, and came straight to 
Vacheron, and in a voice stifled with rage, said, " Has he 
come ? Have you seen him 2 " 

" I have seen him," replied the old man, gravely. 
" Where is he ? Take me to him, I want to kill him." 
" You cannot kill him. Justice has been done." 
" What do you say % Has he been arrested ? Why did 
you give him up to the police ? The wretch belonged to me, 
and I had sworn that he should only die by my hand." 
" He died by mine ; his victims are avenged, and 

Valentine is a widow ! " 

###### 

Diana de Ganges had a magnificent funeral. She, who 
during her life had been known as Fickle Heart, sleeps her 
last sleep in the Cemetery of Auteuil, beneath the shade of 
a weeping-willow, which Valentine had caused to be placed 
over her grave, and under heaps of flowers, which are daily 
renewed. 

All those who had loved her followed her coffin, and 
George Cezambre acted as chief mourner. 

On the same day Gontran de Sartilly was interred at 
Pere Lachaise. Four magnificent horses, with floating 
plumes, dragged his funeral car to the splendid family vault, 
where repose two generations of the Counts de Sartilly, 
whose haughty bones must have quivered with shame as 
they came in contact with the body of the forger and the 
villain. His carriages, draped in black, with the footmen in 
deep mourning, followed the hearse, but not a friend, for he 
never had any, followed ; not even one of the companions of 
his pleasures condescended to attend. 

Peter Vacheron, who had been a humble mason, paid with 
money honestly acquired, for all the funereal pomp of this 
titled scoundrel. He would not allow his daughter's husband 
to be borne to the grave except in a manner befitting his posi- 
tion ; and besides all this, he paid all Sartilly's debts, 
even to his turf ones, and for a long time afterwards the 
bookmakers spoke with delight of this unexpected windfall. 

No one suspected Vacheron for a moment of having killed 
his son-in-law, but he often asked himself if he had not con- 
tributed to it by suddenly altering the direction of the 
weapon with which the villain wa3 menacing his life. But 
after many a hard bout between himself and his conscience 
he ended by acquitting himself, and even the most severe or 
partial judge must have done the same. 

It was Sartilly's finger that had pressed the trigger, but the 
hand of God that had directed the bullet. 

Valentine shed many tears for the man who had caused her 
so much suffering ; but reason at last came to her aid, and she 



384 Fickle Heart 

consoled herself for the death of her persecutor. An 
affectionate father still remains to her, and a true friend who 
will certainly later on be a loving husband, for Vacheron is 
looking forward to her marriage with Henri Trevieres next 
year. 

But for George CMzambre there was no consolation. He 
returned to Mauritius, and it is not likely that he will run 
the risk of again breaking his heart in Paris. 

Saint Senier has met with a good deal of trouble of late. 
He dropped a large sum of money over Snowflake ; and the 
other horses in his stable, the expense of which remained on 
his shoulders, were beaten whenever they ran ; and as if to 
add to his vein of ill-luck, his wife suddenly took it into her 
head to sue for a separation, and to claim certain sums 
abstracted from the settlement, which she contends that he 
had no right to touch. If she gains her suit, and is left to 
her own devices, she will soon drop out of her sphere, and 
there may be fine times in store for footmen and lackeys, 
though she has not yet got rid of her coachman. 

One personage in these pages who had not great reason to 
be delighted over the discomfiture of the Count de Sartilly, 
was William Oxwall. He certainly doubled his capital over 
the Produce Stakes, but Mowbridge, who had somehow 
or other ferretted out some portion of the truth, has 
followed him from racecourse to racecourse with such a series 
of insults and accusations of having promised him money to 
lose the race, and then refused to pay him, that the astute 
bookmaker has found it advisable to transfer his operations 
once more to the other side of the Channel. 

Malvina, in spite of her natural antipathy to England, has 
followed him there ; but Paris will soon see her again, for a 
feeling of home-sickness, and a longing for balls at the 
barriers and open-air concerts, is beginning to creep over her. 

Mowbridge cannot get a mount anywhere, and is going 
fast to the bad. 

Francis, dismissed by M. Vacheron, and rejected by Lisa, 
who is again Mme. de Sartilly's maid, is very discontented. 
He made an effort to enter the service of Mme. de Saint 
Senier, but she changed her mind at the last moment on the 
grounds that he was not young enough. 

Domingo left France with his master. 

The Villa de Primeveres is to let, and the house in the 
Avenue d'Eylau is for sale. 

Florence, the depraved Florence, who went back to her 
former vicious life, has just been sent to the prison of Saint 
Lazare for six months. 

THE END. 



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Price Is. each vol., Richly Coloured Paper Covers; Is. fid. Cloth (pest. 2d.). 

CDMPRI ING THE SOLE AUTHORIZED TRANSLATIONS OF 

FORTUNE DU BOISGOBEY'S ENTHRALLING NOVELS. 

" M. du Boisgobey gives as no tiresome description or laboured analysis of character; 
under his facile pen plots full of incident are quickly opened and unwound. He does not 
stop to moralize; all his art consists in creating intricacies which may keep the reader's 
curiosity on the stretch, and offer a full scope to his really wonderful ingenuity for 
unravelling."— The Timet, Oct. 9th, 1881. 

"The Blue Veil; or, The Angel of the 

Belfry." 

"M. du Boisgobey's romances are better than the thrilling tales which are so 
passionately admired at present. . Sensation novels are the mania of the 

moment, and especially French sensation novels, and, among French novels, especially 
those of Fortune du Boisgobey. . . The readers of Du Boisgnbey's novels are, at 
least, as numerous in London as in Paris. . . . Those whose passion for sensation is 
gratified by an accumulation of horrors will find their literary taste gratified by * The 
Blue Veil.'"— The Whitehall lieoiew. 

One Volume Complete of the Parisian Library. Autograph and Portrait. 



"The Cry of Blood." 



Given a murder enveloped in almost inscrutable obscurity, which would task a whole 
Scotland Yard of detectivos. Du Boisgobey alone among French romancists can conduct the 
reader to the ultimate catastrophe with a fluent and entertaining style. Not a moment is lost 
in dissertation ; the characters are paintrd at full length and in their complexion and habits as,* 
they lived, but yet they are not unduly dwelt upon. ITence there is not a line to fatigue, and 
the reader gratefully lays down the book through which " the cry of blood " rings, awl would 
fain repeat such a literary treat. But only in another Boisgobey novel is its like to be found. 
Two Volumes of the Parisian Library, Is. each. 
Also hound in One Vol., picture cover, 2s. 

" The Condemned Door." 

Marvellous even among.this author's best works for the witching- way in which he keeps 
1,'ie tantalizing mystery perfectly masked, and for a fascination surrounding even the evil 
characters which loses neither in power nor brilliancy to the very end — so dramatic— of th 
story. Commencing and ending with violent tragedy, the interval is filled up with arden 
interest. 

%* This is an authorized, protected work, and cannot be read in any other version 

Two Volumes of the Parisian Library, Is. each. 

Also boundVin One Vol., picture cover, 2s. 



''Death or Dishonour." [/«<*« ^v*a 

As the groundwork for this masterly novel, we have one of the most pizzling crimes 
laid bare which distressed and perplexed all Paris. The revelation is admirably presented, 
and the clearly -drswn characters act out an ingenious drama which uustains M. du Bois- 
goisbey's fame 4^ chief of i,h» modern French romancists. 

\* This is art authorized, protected work, and cannot be read in auy other Version 

Two Volumes of the Parisian Library, Is. each. 

Alfo hound in One Vol., picture cover, 2s. 



COMPLETE, la.; UNIFORM WITH THE ABbVE, IN THE PARISIAN LIB3A&V. 

" The Wife's Sacrifice," Translated by H 

Sutherland Edw&rds from the French of Adolpke Dennery 
jbAuthoi* of the world-famoiiK " 1V.> Orphans." 

LONDON: J*4 B. MAXWEIL, M. BRIDE STSEET, E.O.